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.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Did you ever think Jesus had a mission statement? We can tell what it might have been by the way He lived his time on earth. Always, compassionate. Always teaching, healing, loving.
What is your mission statement? Do well in business? Make good money? Be a star? Write a great book?
The Bible says follow the truth. What is the truth? To do what you saw Jesus do? Jesus did what He saw His Father do. We should be doing what Jesus did. Beyond using our talents, and far past giving money for good works, and light years ahead of following rules, we need to show justice, compassion, mercy, and love.
Monday, February 1, 2016
Church is not a Pew
When you hear the word church, what do you think of? A small white building with a steeple? Or a large stained glass cathedral? Maybe a sanctuary filled with people singing Amazing Grace, or a man up front preaching on verses. Quiet men and women with bowed heads sitting in pews.
That seems to be what we see on television. But that's just the surface. Take my little church for example. We're a family. We work hard together, share, eat, and play together. Currently we are helping a member to buy life or death medicine. We have a standing unofficial group of Living Hope movers. That includes anyone with mobility, time, and desire to help friends move in or out of the their abode. We give car service to those needing rides to doctor appointments. Food for when people are laid up, or a new born in the home. We also reach out to the neighborhood and across the world.
If you've never realized churches can be a body, a community, an organism rather then a big organization, I'm here to tell you they can. Not perfect. Not without fault, but a community of people that are striving to live like Jesus, love like Jesus. We want to "be" the church, not once a week pew warmers.
And with our God's help, we will!