Friday, September 30, 2016

Let's rekindle the fire to a fierce blaze!

2 Timothy 1:1-14
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 6 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 8 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12 and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

So, what's the fire in you that needs to be kindled? What gift of God do you have that needs to be tended to?

Sometimes I don't think we ever stop to think of what God wants us to do. We get so wrapped up in grace that we forget purpose. We forget that we do have work to do. We tend to leave out the work because we know that the work does not gain salvation. So, why worry about it? Why work at all?

In this passage, Paul urges Timothy and us also, to reflect on our home. Our home as in our upbringing and our home in the Church. Some of us were raised by relatives with deep Christian roots. Some of us became Christians by some other means. Some of us are still searching for Jesus our Savior standing right by our side. We all have a source of home on earth and a home in the Church.

So what? What did God call and gift us to do? For some this is an easy question to answer. I think, for most, we don't have a clue. We don't take the time to pray or even think about it. We go along in life as if life has no purpose other that to survive as comfortable as we can.

In this passage, Timothy, and we, are called to think about our call and our gifts. We are called to stop and rekindle the fire of our call and to do something about it. We are called to action. God saved us not through our works but through his grace through Jesus who calls us and gives us a purpose.

It's not for our own calling and purpose... it's for Jesus' purpose and calling. Our purpose and calling come through Jesus.

So what about grace? What about faith? We were given the grace of God through Jesus before the ages began and revealed through Jesus.

Let that light your fire of action and love! Let that put the pause in your life to pray, to listen, to respond!

It's time the fire be set ablaze in the Church. It's time to let the Holy Spirit burn with love for God and love for one another... ALL the "others"...

Thanks be to God!


Lord, I don't need any more faith that what I have. I do want more of you. Kindle your fire of purpose and of call, to action in me, that I may bring you glory... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Is Enough Enough?

Luke 17:5-10

5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" 6 The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. 7 "Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, "Come here at once and take your place at the table'? 8 Would you not rather say to him, "Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, "We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!' "


How much faith do I need? Is enough enough? If I need more, how do I get more?

It seems here that even a tiny bit of faith can do things beyond what I could ever imagine. But, who wants to plant trees in the sea?

Do I ever give a servant a break? After a hard day of work, do I burden then with more work and then tell them they'll get a break when they are done taking care of me? Am I the servant or the master? And if I'm the master; who do I think I am?

Does the slave get a thank you? The slave did the job expected... no thanks! Worthless slave!

More questions and mystery with this short passage than I can handle!

It seems that this passage is about quantity of things. Is enough enough?

Well, it depends. I can't do enough to make my keep. I can't do enough to repay God for all that God has done for me. What I do do is so much smaller than the mustard seed that it would be an embarrassing offering.

This reminds me of Cain and Abel. Cain came with gifts and Abel came with gifts to offer to God. Cain came in the pretense that he was born first and offered his gift to God knowing that he was the firstborn and thus chosen by God to be number 1 by his birth. No faith needed for Cain. Cain believed his gift would be pleasing to God because his gift was from the firstborn son of Adam and Eve. Abel came with his gifts having faith that God would accept his gift because he knew God was a good and loving God. Abel came humble before God with his gift.

God saw a little bit of faith with Abel. God saw a smugness with Cain. God liked Abel's gift because it was given in faith. (That's my twist on God's reaction... you'll have to find out from God if it's right or not... so will I)

With this reasoning... I can only think that Jesus is telling his disciples that just a tiny bit of faith is more than they can handle. And on top of that... Jesus is giving them and us this tiny bit of faith. Faith to be used. Faith to be put into action. Faith that is enough to plant that tree into the sea... but let's do something better with our faith than  that.

How about we free the slave? How about we thank the Master! How about we work with the slave in thanks to the Master for all he has done? How about we be the slave, the servant, the disciple and do what God has called us to do? How about we feed the hungry, go to the sick, visit the imprisoned, help the homeless find a home? How about we love one another and stop all the fighting and the hatred? How about we turn to our enemy and offer peace?

I begin with questions and end with questions. Begin with impossible questions to answer and end with questions that, with a little bit of faith, move us to respond with action through faith in God.

Just think... with only our little bitty tiny speck of faith in God... God responds with a faith in us that we can't even begin to quantify.

Isn't that why we respond?

It's about God... not about us!

Thanks be to God!



Lord, use me and increase my faith; today, tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Prayers sent

Luke 11:1-13

1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 2 He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial." 5 And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' 7 And he answers from within, "Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. 9 "So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"


Jesus, teach me how to pray. Jesus prayed... the disciples witness Jesus in prayer. So they want to know how to pray. Is it the same with us. Do we even pray? We see on Facebook or Twitter a request for prayer. Did so many people end that prayer with prayers sent? Was that the beginning and end of it? Do people really stop and pray? My pessimism tells me that the majority of those who sent the answers to this prayer request began and ended with the phrase "prayers sent."

Prayers sent? What does that mean? Does it mean that you replied and hit post? Jesus takes us much deeper than this. Jesus teaches us to pray much deeper.

First we address God. God who is holy. A God with whom we fully recognize that we are God's children. God loves us as the little babies that we are. We come to God in need of God's full support. Without God we couldn't exist. We would die without God's love and care.

We have a God that is holy. Sure God is holy... but we pray here that we may keep God holy in our hearts and lives. That we would live our lives in harmony with God. That we would honor God and know that without God we have no being.

Next we pray for the kingdom of God. Not that God would rule this kingdom so much but that God's kingdom would come into our lives here and now. We fully know that God's kingdom came through Jesus and we anticipate in joy and hope that God's kingdom will be fulfilled in heaven forever.

The will of God... what is the will of God in your life. Will God's will be done? Sure! God's will is done even without our prayer. We ask here that God's will would be done through us as well. We seek to be God's instrument of God's will because God's will is always good and gracious.

We're getting closer to "prayers sent," We are asking that we be involved with our God and we be involved with our Facebook friend's prayer request... not just be typing something... but by our participation in God's will. Now we ask that God's will would be done in heaven and on earth. Yes heaven and earth. We go beyond ourselves to those who have gone beyond and before us and we go with ourselves by participating in God's will on earth through our action.

It's here in our prayer that we can thank God. God already knows that to do the will of God, we will need God's help. We need all things to sustain daily life. We need food, clothing, a good home and devoted family. We need government and good weather. We need everything needed for life in order to do God's will. And God provides just what we need in the measure that we need it. This is our prayer for daily bread from God.

Oh yes! We need forgiveness to do God's will. We need to be forgiven and we need to forgive and we need to know that we are not perfect and can only live with God's forgiveness, lest we die. To do God's will for our Facebook friend we need to be alive in Christ.

Just as Jesus knew temptation and evil. God knows that we will face temptation and evil and need God to help us. We pray here that to be of use to our Facebook friend in prayer that God protect us and guide us when we are tempted and when we face evil.

Now we're set... we knock! We knock and we talk and we go to God in prayer for our Facebook friend. We ask to be involved. And we may have to be prepared for a return visit from God. Jesus just might come to our door and knock. Jesus may come and knock. And when we answer that door... perhaps... Jesus may say... "Can Billy come out to play?"

Are you willing to get involved with your Facebook friends prayer request?

Think about it... think... go to God in prayer... before you send that "Prayers sent" message.
Be honest with yourself and your friend about that "Prayers sent" or just leave it alone.

Thanks be to God!


Thank you Jesus for teaching us how to pray... prayers sent... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Luke 10:38-42
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." 41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."


So there I was not moving to amount to anything. But the brain was churning. The brain was churning with anger. Why wouldn't she get up and help. We had an honored guest to care for but noooo... there she was... sitting and listening and not helping one bit.

And then I sprung into action. I wiggled and waggled and air pushed out of the lungs and through the voice box and over me as I wiggled and waggled to form a whole bunch of words in a matter of a few seconds. I don't think I had ever moved that quickly before in my life!

Then I went still... I could tell the ears had sprung into action and the brain was processing something from the mouth of Jesus. And then... and then! I say then! The teeth bit me!!!!!



Lord, stop me every once in a while that I may listen to your Word... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, July 15, 2016


Colossians 1:15-28

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— 23 provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel. 24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25 I became its servant according to God's commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.


Paul writes to these Christians that are in the face of a Roman power that demands an allegiance to the government and the governing authority. A Roman power that even exalts the leader to the form of a god. This is the context of this scripture.

Yet Paul tells the Colossians  that another authority is rather over all things. Jesus is the image of God the first born of all creation. In Jesus everything comes into place... all creation. Even the Roman government? Even ISIS? Even the governments of the world today?

Well sort of... but God isn't pleased to dwell in our sinfulness... no matter how hard we try to make it right... the only true dwelling with God comes through a reconciliation that comes through God in Jesus Christ.

So some of the things of this world don't seek reconciliation... they don't turn to God... evil exists and we are in this world alongside God with all of it. We are presently in the context of this world all of the time.

So we listen. We listen in this passage to a new way. We pull ourselves back for a moment from this world's evil forces and listen to the Word.

Jesus makes us holy through his death. Jesus makes us holy and blameless and irreproachable before God... provided... that we stand with God in faith. Here we stand in faith and hope of all God has done in Jesus. Not what we do ourselves. Not what our worldly thinking of any political stand or thinking of our own could ever accomplish through our own misguided action. We stand in faith and in hope for all God has done.

Are we to not act then? No... we are to act. But we act through what God guides us to do. And here we must... must... stop... stop... and listen. We may act in such a way that we believe God is speaking to us but rather that we are acting in such a way that we think God has told us to act in the way that we wish to act. Whew!

We listen to Jesus... we follow his way... and realize that Jesus' way comes with suffering... it comes with hope... it comes with joy... it comes with life... it comes with resurrection. A resurrection out of the dead and evil of ISIS, terrorists, death, pain, false leaders and our own sinfulness. We listen to something completely different in the way of Jesus. We listen to a God that gives all for all so that all may live... all may live. Yes God died for ISIS, terrorists, presidents we like and presidents we don't like. God dies for all people of all walks of life. It's not our choice... that was God's choice.

So we listen in hope, we listen in faith, we listen as Paul states above...

" I became its servant according to God's commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,  the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints.  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ."




Lord, open my mind and my ears to hear you through all the chaos of this world. Hover over the waters of chaos this day and bring us finally to that glorious day when we will see you face to face... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Who, me?

Psalm 15
Who Shall Abide in God’s Sanctuary?

A Psalm of David.
O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
   Who may dwell on your holy hill?

Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
   and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue,
   and do no evil to their friends,
   nor take up a reproach against their neighbours;
in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
   but who honour those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
who do not lend money at interest,
   and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.


Wow, I'll never be able to attend worship if I have to meet all of these requirements!

God's tent and holy hill bring to mind the Tabernacle and the Temple. Who can go into those places?

If we do go into those places would we see God face to face?
I think maybe we would.

Would I be worthy to enter one of those places? Would I be clean?
I don't think so; not on my own efforts, I'm sure I would fail all of the requirements.

So now what? Will I ever see God?
I have! God comes to me in Word and Spirit and Sacrament. God comes to me in the flesh of people I would least expect and in flesh of those I would expect. God comes to me in the daily miracles of life and God comes to me in death. Yes... I see God!

So, can I enter?
I sure can! God opened wide the Holy of Holies and tore open that curtain to expose God to me and to all creation at the death of Jesus on the cross. God forgives sin. God defeats evil, death and the devil for me and for all people so that we can see God face to face.

Yes, I can enter into worship with God and see God. I can enter as clean as a whistle because of what God has done. I can enter and see God without the burden of sin. I can enter the Temple, the Tabernacle, the Worship Service, the Heart, because of everything God has done.

Do you believe it?
God came to this earth in the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. He lived, he healed, he taught, he suffered, he died and he rose again.
Jesus came and called disciples to witness to his love. Disciples like you and me. He called us one on one and one on all to walk in his presence and to follow his call for each of us and for all of us.
Believe it!

Thanks be to God!



Lord, as I enter into your presence, take me as I am. Show me your way. Hear my prayer and lead me and guide me in the path you have planned for me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Amos 8:1-12

1 This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. 2 He said, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then the Lord said to me, "The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. 3 The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day," says the Lord God; "the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!" 4 Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, 5 saying, "When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, 6 buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat." 7 The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. 8 Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? 9 On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day. 11 The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.


"Buford doesn't look so good." My daughter Sarah responded to me when I noticed that Buford was out of his little igloo home in the middle of the day. Normally Buford, the hamster, sleeps all day except for a drink and to go to the potty and he runs all night in his wheel. But Buford is old for a hamster... really old. Later that afternoon Buford died in Sarah's hands as she cuddled him. It was a sad time.

The Scripture above contains two types of passages. First we witness a story in the form of a vision. This is followed by an announcement of judgment from God.

We have summer fruit contrasted with "the end." At first it doesn't seem that these two thoughts go together but in the language of the day "summer fruit" and "the end" sounded very similar. What's the similarity?

It seems to me that all over the Scriptures, God loves to use opposites that link together somehow. When I think of "summer fruit," I think of good things. When I think of "the end," I think of things unknown and scary. Summer fruit, I can visualize. The end, I can't see.

With this in mind, I'm led into the judgment portion of this passage.

The judgment part of this passage seems to be about cheating people. Cheating people, especially the poor and needy out of their money. Sounds familiar thinking of the environment that we live in today. Today, it seems, we see the rich cheating the poor... housing crisis. We also see the poor cheating the rich with fraudulent claims for welfare, social security, disability and such.

And now the judgment... through our deeds... none of us can claim we are an exception to this... we are all guilty of this... God changes our feasting into mourning, our songs into lamentation and terribly the time will come when we won't hear the Word.

Will God bring this on? I'm not sure about that. It seems to me that the judgment is more a result of our own cheating one another and our failure to listen to God. It seems to me that God is telling us the results of staying on the same path of sinfulness. It seems to me that God is warning us to stop it and turn from our sin. It seems to me that God is telling us to listen carefully to the Word.

So, what about Buford?

God placed in our care the animals. However, it seems to me that the animals take better care of us than we do of them. Buford never seemed to want to hurt anyone, unless he felt threatened. He lived his life and gave love to the people around him. Sarah and Kaiya, Bubs, myself and even Bryan would take time to feed Buford and supply water. Buford lived his live and we all watched and loved Buford. And then Buford died. Tears were shed.

I can't see any reason that Buford would bring a judgment of sinfulness on his part. In fact, Buford lived a life that was honest. No cheating... no sin (that I could see)... yet still Buford died. And there is that contrast... Buford lived a good life yet still he died.

Like Buford, we are placed on this world together as Christians for a purpose. All creatures will praise God and all creatures are here to please God. So...

I'm reminded of this passage which seems to address Buford, you, me, Christians and the Church.

2 Timothy 4.1-5
4In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 5As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

We are here for a reason. We are here for a purpose that God has given to us. We are here for God. In life and in death we belong to God. What more could we want?

Thanks be to God!



Lord, open my eyes to all of your creatures. May I see the service and joy that they bring to you. Fulfill in me your hope of a life lived to bring you glory. Fulfill in me the love I have for you and the love you would have me to give to those you bring to me. You show life through death and light through darkness and forgiveness through my sin. May I always pause and listen to your Word... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Genesis 18:1-10a
1 The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. 3 He said, "My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant." So they said, "Do as you have said." 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes." 7 Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. 9 They said to him, "Where is your wife Sarah?" And he said, "There, in the tent." 10 Then one said, "I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son."


"May I help who is next?"

I heard this last night from a girl working behind the counter at Graeter's Ice Cream. She was very nice and helpful. I paid for the ice cream cones and some cookies and sat down to eat.

In this instance of help, I had to stand in line and wait my turn. I also had to pay. As I think back upon this experience and think about the Scripture above, questions and contrasts come to mind.

  • The Lord appeared to Abraham... did the Lord appear to me?
  • Abraham saw three men and ran to them... I had to wait my turn.
  • Abraham didn't want these visitors to pass by without the chance to serve them... no money required.
  • The three men gave Abraham the opportunity to serve... does God likewise give me the opportunity to serve?
  • Abraham was excited to serve! Was the girl behind the counter that excited to serve?
  • The men left Abraham with a promise. Does God give me a promise?
Did the Lord appear to me? Well maybe. I met another child of God. She was working. She was serving for a wage. Would she serve freely? Probably not. But in some way, even in this girl, there is a creation of God. A bit of God's handiwork before me. How can I deny that I didn't see a little bit of God... maybe more than I could perceive.

I'm excited to see how Abraham responded to the men. But then I think of the context of this passage. Abraham is resting in the shade after having been circumcised. He got up and ran! Really? Abe... take a break after all! But Abraham responded through the pain to see God in the flesh of these visitors. No waiting your turn... if I see God... get up and go! Even if the little guy hurts some. It's God I serve not the other way around! Oh, how I want to serve God in some way... in any way!

God gives us the opportunity to serve... the privilege to serve... the honor to serve. We respond to God; we don't work to gain God's approval, rather we respond to God's grace. We respond to his gift of salvation. We respond to God's promise. We respond to God because of what God has done for you, me and all of us. We respond out of love for God. We respond to serve God and to serve one another in all of our needs. We respond because of God's love.

There is no way we could ever repay God for what God has done for us. Look how this passage ends... God grants life to Sarah and Abraham through the impossible womb of time. I'm sure both Abraham and Sarah couldn't see the gift of life that God was about to grant from the old tomb of Sarah's womb.

Yes! There is a promise! There is a promise of life from the dead. Waaay before Jesus was born from Mary... God came to this earth and blessed Abraham, Sarah and you and me with life from the tomb of a dead womb. God gives life eternal when we may only see death.

And here... here... we see God. Life from death, pain, suffering. God grants us life! Thanks be to God!



Lord, open my eyes to see you. To see you in all those who serve, to see you in the stranger, to see you in the traveler and to see you in the promise of life from death. May I run to serve you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, July 11, 2016


Luke 10:38-42
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." 41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."


"Have you already had something for lunch?"

My son, Bryan, called me yesterday morning or maybe early afternoon. He wanted to know if we wanted to go out to lunch with him and my daughter-in-law, Becky. Sue, Sarah and I were just beginning lunch and declined. Later in the afternoon we met Bryan and Becky at our house for conversation and catching up on the activities of our vacation.

The Scripture above seems to speak to hospitality. A welcoming hospitality that we, as Christians, need to offer to all people. We need to be especially hospitable to those unlike ourselves such as the foreigner. We need to be hospitable to those of different faiths, different orientations and different opinions from our own. Yes, as Christians, we are to be hospitable to all God's people in this world he created.

No, we don't need to agree or be like the other person in any way. God has created us to be unique. We seek the will of God not the approval of man. We are different for sure and we can be hospitable.

Bryan was seeking to be hospitable after my return from a few day get away.

In hospitality we see two forms as exemplified by the Scripture above. Mary was hospitable and truly blessed by stopping all and listening to Jesus spoken Word. She gave Jesus her full attention.

Martha, likewise, was hospitable by springing into action to serve Jesus and bring comfort.

Hospitality combines both of these traits to bring forth a witness of love to the guest. Yes, Jesus commended Mary for choosing the "better part" and stopping all the things of this world to focus on the Word. I think in this is the stopping. We stop to offer hospitality but when our focus centers on our busyness, we miss the central point of hospitality. We miss the focus on our guest.

Yes, Bryan, Becky and myself, Sue and Sarah did come together in hospitality. A hospitality of coming together in conversation and relationship of love and listening.

You never know. Just as Jesus was traveling along the road in that day and as he stopped for the hospitality offered from Mary and Martha; we too may welcome Jesus into our homes. May we, as Christians be hospitable to all God's people both in contemplation of the spoken word and in actions of love.



Lord, open my mouth, my actions and my home to be hospitable to all the people you have created... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, July 04, 2016


Luke 10:25-37

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 27 He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live." 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, "Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."


"Questions... questions... questions." I can hear my high school Chemistry teacher, Mr. Goldsmith, say that even now. It seems the above passage is full of questions. Questions from the lawyer answered by questions by Jesus and then a parable ending with a question.

"What must I do...?" It seems that it all begins with something to do to achieve something else. Something that we think we can do... but can we really do it properly? Do we really love God with all of our heart, soul and strength? Do we really love our neighbor? Be honest with yourself. Be honest with God. I know that I want to... but... I don't. I don't always love God... and I certainly don't always and sometimes never love my neighbor.

So... now what? Another question. Questions... questions... questions. Jesus tells me a story and from my perspective it all gets worse. Would I really help this guy? Would I pass by? Well... maybe sometimes... maybe not.

So... now what? What would Jesus do? WWJD...

So... up to this point... I'm a miserable failure at this whole eternal life thing!

So... I go back to the story. It seems like the Samaritan is like Jesus to me. Now that thought in itself would be a horrible thought to bring up in Jesus' time. The audience were Jews... they hated the Samaritans. Jesus was a Jew. How dare Jesus take on the skin of a Samaritan... even in a story? So... I think my thought of the Samaritan like Jesus would have gotten me thrown over the cliff and stoned to death.

But... here I am today and I don't think I'm going to be stoned for my thought. You see, the Samaritan had the compassion and mercy of Jesus. The Samaritan rescued the fallen man from death and paid for his care. The Samaritan saved the fallen man.

So... maybe it's just like Jesus did for me, a fallen man. Jesus had compassion on me and mercy on me and paid the price for me to save me.

Yes I fail the test, but Jesus saved me anyway. It wasn't about me doing all of the right things and saying the right things; it was about Jesus having compassion on me and mercy on me and saving me.

Questions... questions... questions. How do I respond? I go and have compassion and mercy on all of God's people... that's ALL people. Because... sometimes I think that when I look into the eyes of the one on the side of the road... I may be looking into the eyes of Jesus. Jesus who suffered and died for me and for all people who lie on the side of the road and all people who pass by and those who, like Jesus have compassion and mercy.

I don't worry about when I fail but I certainly tell about how Jesus has had compassion and mercy on me and saved me!

Thanks be to God!



Lord, forgive my failure to follow your commands and lead me to follow you. Show me the way to have compassion, mercy and a giving heart to all people and all creations. Correct my steps along the way and teach me to do your will. Today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, July 02, 2016


Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!' 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 "Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'

16 "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18 He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."


They went out together and they came in peace. That's not typical thinking in today’s environment it seems. Our knee jerk reaction is to go out and if we are not accepted or we are threatened, we blow the hell out of them. We want to settle things by carpet bombing. At what point do we reach this conclusion? At what point do we “blow the hell out of them?” At what point do we carpet bomb?

Did we ever come in peace?

Jesus sends these disciples out ahead of himself to every place he intended to go. Jesus wasn’t going somewhere to be the typical king of that day. Jesus was heading on a mission of death by crucifixion, pain, denial, betrayal, the tomb and resurrection. This was not the way or the path that any of his disciples who were now going ahead could have even guessed.

Jesus did not plan on “blowing the hell out of them.” Jesus did not plan on carpet bombing anyone. Yet Jesus was going into the same dangers that we go into today.

Jesus sent them in peace. If accepted… great! Stay in peacefulness with your host. If rejected… leave in peace. Know for sure that this peace is an eternal peace. A peace that passes understanding. Jesus’ peace is something beyond our definition of peace.

Today we face the terrorist. The terrorist does not come in peace. The terrorist comes in judgment and death to the stranger and the friend alike. The terrorist comes to us with hate and death and the glory of martyrdom in mind. How do we respond to this? In peace? I don’t have the answer to this type of one coming to another. Just as I can’t understand Jesus’ peace; I likewise am unable to understand the hate of the terrorist. I can’t understand the mission of Jesus and I can’t understand the mission of the terrorist.

What I do seem to take from this passage is that the great harvest of God of all time will not produce the fruit of hate. The harvest will produce peace. Peace that only God can give. Peace that comes with and through Jesus release of all creation to salvation in Jesus suffering, death and resurrection. Jesus gives us the peace of salvation. Jesus brings peace in this work of hate, carpet bombs and blowing the hell out of one another. Jesus steps in the midst of our chaotic, sin filled world to bring a harvest of peace.



Lord, open my eyes to walk in the way of peace. Give me the understanding to respond as you would respond. As I walk the dangerous path that you walked in life may I see beyond the sin. May I see beyond the terror. May I see beyond the manipulation and evil intentions. May I see the mission of following you through your plan and direction for me. Forgive my hateful, judgmental and evilness and place me in your path of peace that only you can give. May the fruit I bear at the great harvest be peace... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, July 01, 2016

Large Letters

Galatians 6:[1-6]7-16

[1 My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. 4 All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. 5 For all must carry their own loads. 6 Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.]

7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. 11 See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. 14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16 As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.


So there I was for all the world to see. I was there from the hand of Paul. Bold and beautiful for all the world to see. I was there in a form that proclaimed something wonderful that everyone should know. Yes, there I was on record to proclaim a new creation. Yes, I was there for all to see and proclaim a new creation. A creation that came from the deadly cross of Christ. The deadly cross of Christ which now stood bold and beautiful to new life and salvation. I was only there to point to the Father, Son and Spirit in salvation.

Yes, I was bold and beautiful. God was there to turn death into a new creation of life. There I was from the hand of Paul, the large letters that I am.

Thanks be to God!

Chris Tomlin - "I Will Boast"


Lord, take my tongue, take my fingers, take my mind and my soul. Make me large and make me bold and make me beautiful. Make me into a new creation that boldly proclaims to all the world your saving power. Today, tomorrow and forever... --- Amen