Thursday, December 8, 2016
Directly after the elections Greg Ralston preached a sermon of unity. Lots of us split on who we believe should be president, but as Christians we should not be split on where we stand. Doesn't matter who won the election. We must have conversations not arguments.
Here is where we can stand together. Just after the election there were 20 reported attacks on Trump supporters. There were 300 reported attacks on minorities. There is a problem here. It seems many people have decided that since Trump was elected it is now okay to openly ridicule, show hate, violence, or down right cruelty to immigrants, Muslims, ethnic minorities, and the marginalized. You yourselves may know this is wrong and not believe it is even happening. But I have friends that tell me this is not the case. This comes from those who are experiencing it first hand.
Now is the time to stand with those God tells us to love the same way we love ourselves. Empathize, have compassion, hear with your heart. And love Jesus style!
Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22 - "When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord you God."
Thursday, September 1, 2016
The sermon began with the story of the woman at the well. The place where Jesus shows a Samaritan, a sin filled woman, that He is the Messiah. He offers living water, the water that never dries up. That keeps thirst away.
During the sermon I envision a cup that is over flowing with a downpour from heaven. Or a fountain that squirts up in never ending glistening sprays. As I thought about times of prayer and worship these do a good job of describing this.
But there have been deeper times. Prayers that began at the shores edge. The tide creeping up to the toes. The next wave washing over my feet, pulling me into the sand. I drop to my knees and allow the next crash to swirl up to my chest and the smell of freshness fills me.
As God's spirit draws me close I dive into the ocean of His love. Here is the living water that takes over all my senses. I twirl, somersault, and float in the warmth of belonging, love, and joy.
The living water that never runs out. The sea that always satisfies. Don't take a sip. Don't wet the toes and walk away. Give in to the waters flow completely, effortlessly, with all your body, mind, and soul.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
A heart so calcified and covered by stone-like barnacles that even the most raging sins or need for mercy roll off like ice on a hot sidewalk. How did it get this way? Every time we don't take on empathy for malicious wrongs, or we let a small sin slip by another scale covers our beating hearts.
"The hardening of a tender heart almost always starts with justifiable action." This statement by Priscilla Shirer caught my eye this week. Especially with all that has been going on in our nation. Instead of listening to the cries of injustice, some try to minimize the plight. To excuse persecution and debate that it was deserved or somehow a product of their own doing, only disguises the sin. It allows us to brick up our empathy with self-righteous.
We pick and choose which sins we cannot tolerate. A man takes up an rapid fire rifle and doesn't see the LGBTQ people as humans. He sees targets. The rest of us cry. We pray. But we will not sell them a cake. Because we don't want to be complicit in their sin. What if they thought we thought what they did was Ok? And yet other sins we are not so judgmental about. For instance the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was "She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned, they did not help the poor and needy." Perhaps these don't deserve a cake as well.
Take a minute to do some introspection. Can you see them? The sins you hide deep in the darkness and gloss over their importance? I can of mine. Some people say hate the sin, not the sinner. But I say hate your own sin, and love others.
Oh, that we all would have bleeding hearts, like the pictures of Jesus with a heart drawn on His chest dripping with mercy and love. This is where the term "bleeding heart" came from. Now it is used as a derogatory term. But we used to be known for being bleeding heart Christians.
Oh, Holy Spirit, we ask that you would crack open this shell of rock. Chip away the stone cold covering. Make our hearts so tender that even a small turn from your love will burn like acid on the soul. Give us bleeding hearts again. Help us to have empathy, to see injustice, and listen with mercy.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Fabric of our Lives
Our lives may have episodes that are woven with patterns of grief, drudgery, and tears. Times when others may want you to sing the happy songs, but you can't. Like when Israel was enslaved in Babylon. Their captors wanted to hear them sing their beautiful songs of old. But they answered how can we sing in a foreign land?
Maybe the design that runs through your life is hard and sharp, heavy and monotonous. But interspersed in the cloth God can break through the fabric and punch holes of joy, hope, and new songs to sing. He can restore our strength and encourage us through the hard times. He is able to bring peace in the midst of conflict, and most of all hope for better times to come.
For those who weep through the night, joy comes in the morning!
Thursday, June 9, 2016
This last spring Pastor Greg talked about creation by bringing out two different types. The one where God made the world, and in the way He recreates our lives when we come to Him. I illustrated this by putting in nature and expressing all the exquisite treasures He designed for us. The path winding through the sketch represents our life path and how he recreates our life into His plan.
Greg quoted lines from two different songs to represent each type of creating that God does.
"You make beautiful things out of dust - US!"
"You made something beautiful of my life!"
A few weeks ago Todd Spieker preached a sermon for his confirmation class. The one he taught, not the one he graduated from. They were celebrating having finished the course. Todd went back to his childhood and brought out a memory that those from Colorado Springs can relate to. It is that when you hear the sound of jets overhead and the Thunderbirds are literally thundering in the sky that summer is at hand. The cadets at the Air Force Academy are graduating.
Then he told them something I hadn't even known about. That the night before their graduation the cadets received their commissions. Their new title and the places they will serve. Because, unlike other schools and colleges, this is not an ending, but a beginning. They are not stopping and putting away books and lessons to seek out a new course. They will be just beginning to use all they had learned.
Todd's confirmed students need to see this as their beginning. Not a time to quit reading their Bibles, going to church, or to stop stretching their faith, but now is the time to BEGIN!
Keep going, Don't stop, start, never finish, go, go , GO!
Be strong and courageous.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
The Light by which I See
The Bible is like a flashlight. A lamp. It guides my steps. Sometimes the light is only for one step at a time. I am absolutely gobsmacked at how often the words and phrases fit my needs. Not just rules, but encouragement, hope, how to deal with the future and the world around me. When I can put out my anxious fears like ice on a matchstick, why wouldn't I hold this book close?
The Bible tells the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ (the good news.) Throughout Old and New Testaments His death, resurrection, and fulfillment of the covenant is embedded through prophesy and witnesses from that day and time.
But it also tells us how God interacts with man, through his encounters with Noah, Moses, Abraham, and David. How He longs to be an active player in our lives. His message is clear. Don't be afraid, have hope, serve with passion, and be ready to receive His extravagant love.