Friday, September 4, 2015

Treasures of the heart

Treasures of the heart
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and vermin destroy, where thieves break in and steal. Instead, store up treasures in heaven where moth and vermin do not destroy and thieves don't break in and steal."  Matthew 6:19-20.  So, how do we do that? Pat Dorbin preached this sermon for us. The treasures you build in heaven you cannot hold in your hand, unless you are holding a frighten child's hand to comfort. You can't wear these gems, unless it is the smile you give, even when you've dragged yourself to bed after volunteering to help children read, when you've already had a full day at work. 

These riches are not for yourself, but given to a culture of people that is in dire need of food, shelter, or safety. If a quarter tossed in the Salvation Army pots is all you will spare, than your heavenly treasure will be sparse. But if you fill you heart's treasure box with precious times of prayer and Bible reading, jewels of loving sacrifice, and pearls of selfless giving then your treasures will never be taken from you. Dress yourself in the fruits of the spirit. love, joy peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, They will never rot, and no one can ever steal it from you. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

No Condemnation

No Condemnation
This summer Pastor Greg has been teaching on Romans 8:1. "Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." So, what does that look like from my sketch pen? Well, one way is to remind us that as Christians we don't need to carry the burdens of our past mistakes, sins, and fears. Many of us still carry them on our backs in the form of guilt, worry, and striving with our own strength. We are fighting a war that has already been won.

We need to throw off the heaviness of fearing that any moment God will say, enough, you've gone too far. You've lost my love. God does not stop just short of your sin, sister. You are not the one that God says, nope can't do it, brother.  Remind yourself daily about His unfailing love. Don't lecture yourself about how this was not good enough, or that sin too evil for God to demolish. 

Put your mind on Him. Seek out holiness. What does holiness look like? Singer/song writer, Rich Mullen says we need to come to the place where we are not even tempted by sin. Where we are not trying to white knuckle our nature into obeying. We can walk past sin and not be affected by its pull. 

Wow, how do we do that? When we become so close to Jesus we couldn't even think of betraying Him. That's freedom. That's peace. 

Start by quitting, and begin resting in His strength, not yours. 

            "For the the law of the Spirit has done away with the law of 
                                                                                            SIN 
                                                                                                     and DEATH.
                           For what man could not do, because human nature is weak,
                                                                                                                           GOD DID!
                      He came with a nature, like man's nature, to do away with
                                                         SIN and DEATH!

And how do we get that close to God? More sketches to come. 
                                                                                                        

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Power in Pentecost


Way back in May, I got to go to Wisconsin to visit my son and my DIL. Since the new grand-baby was born, I've gotten behind in posting. This is Todd's sermon from that week. 

Power in Pentecost
The same spirit who was active hovering over the waters before creation, the same spirit  that made Moses do that all he did, that empowered David, and descended on Jesus himself is the same Spirit poured out in Acts. Pastor Todd's sermon speaks of the Pentecost. This advocate, this power, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, speaks truth, performs miracles, and empowers. He is closer to us than our own breath. God poured gas on a fire, and His message exploded across the world. 

The poor were helped, people were healed, lives were changed. The Spirit inspired generosity. Psalm 121:1 "Unless the Lord builds the house the labors work in vain." The Holy Spirit made them extraordinary disciples of God. The Spirit would take enemies of God and turn them into servants of God. 

This event was a huge turning point, a hinge pin in Christian history. The Holy Spirit comes in Power and in Truth. This even affects us today. In my sketch I tried to show how His coming gave power then, and He does today. 

As Todd's mom, I can attest to the fact that he hated going to the dentist. His fear, as he explained, was that they would find something wrong. That he would try to ignore the pain, eat on the other side of his mouth, or try excuse his pain away, all to not have to go and hear what really needed to be done. This is like the cup and bowl that is clean on the outside, but filthy on the inside.  

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.


Saul, in that moment on the road to Damascus, was confronted by Jesus. He had to admit he had been wrong. He was sure he had been clean and right, and doing what God wanted. He was pretty sure he had been doing all that was right. But he was confronted by Jesus on the road. He was hit on the head with the fact that he was doing it all wrong. What does he do? Does he pretend he didn't hear, or does he change? Saul makes the choice and surrenders to the truth. Even though he had to admit he had been apposing God. At that moment he let the Holy Spirit break in and guide him in truth.

Are we going to listen or ignore what the Holy Spirit is telling us? Ask the Holy Spirit is there anything you need to change in me? Is there anything you need me to do? 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spiritual Fitbit

Spiritual Fitbit
It's the end of casual Christianity. Isn't that terrific? 

Sometimes only a sentence or two of a sermon strikes me and the sketch comes to life. When Pastor Greg spoke about viewing that race that lays before us, he used Paul's illustration. Paul wanted to inspire us to put effort and  heart into our growth as Christians, in the way an athlete trains and pushes hard to win in a race. But I saw this in modern terms. Many of us have taken up the call to fitness by using a device called a Fitbit. 

If you own a Fitbit you know they include a homepage called a dashboard. It is here that you keep track of you progress. At first I filled this spiritual Fitbit with all the things I knew I should be doing to strengthen my walk. Then I listened to Pastor Todd's sermon on the Soundcloud.  He reminded me we should not think our Christian walk is about doing all the "right" things. That we should be inspired to follow Jesus so closely that the dust from his feet, will cover our clothes. This reminds me of watching a three year old copy every move, quirky mannerism, and favorite expressions that his dad or big brother is making. 

In light of this, I changed the boxes to read the things that we can gain from following Jesus. The help we can get and where we can get it. We live in a time where the casual Christian is losing ground. It may feel like Christianity is dying in America, because there are fewer people claiming the title. But the reality is that people are learning to be the truth instead of shouting it at others. We are not satisfied to sit in a pew and simply be entertained. Hurray!!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Following Jesus

Following Jesus
In a past sermon, Pastor Greg wondered how a grandpa might answer his grand-daughter's question of, "How do you follow Jesus?" So many ways have been touted. Is it an easy road? One filled with wealth and blessings? Perhaps a road lined with rules and constant shouts of "No!" Is it to huddle away, separate from the world, pointing critical fingers in fear and condemnation? A highway safe and not marked by struggle or stress?

No, none of these. It is the road that is difficult but filled with compassion and love. A path know for humility and selfless service. Sometimes it displays a roaring boldness that steps up to defend the poor and marginalized. Flames of the Holy Spirit ignite and burn to light the way, to inspire us and push us to greatness in our service.  

What does following Jesus Christ mean to you?

The Listener

The Listener
Christianity in America has been stretched, twisted, and diluted. Have you heard it? Be patriotic, if you aren't what kind of Christian are you? Yearn, and earn your way to a nice house, a fine family, pull yourself up in the world. Look for God to make you rich, and blessed. Sit in the pew each Sunday, be Republican, conservative, patriotic, AND back the correct politician.  If  someone interprets the Bible different than the majority, don't forget to make sure they know they are wrong and are going to hell. Let them know in a sly way how glad you are about that. Being happy is the goal in life and most of all safe. After all why would non-Christians want to become one if we all looked poor as a church mouse, and were struggling. 

The word of God has a different story. A story of grace, sacrifice, and generosity. Whatever you are hearing, allow the Bible to be the filter through which you listen. Pray for wisdom, make a conscious effort to allow love and mercy to be your guide. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand
Have you wondered how there are so many different opinions in the Christian community? I mean look at all the different denominations. Even within each church it can be hard to get a consensus on things. Many of us have a determined desire to make everyone keep their toes up to our line of thought. Yet God has made it known he wants His people to live in unity. 

As a member of the Covenant denomination, I am very pleased that we make room for differences even within our own members. How can this be? As long as the resurrection Gospel is the center of the belief, the side issues can be different. Like branches off of the same tree. We are connected to the main branch that believes in Jesus and His sacrifice. 

Here is a phrase I learned from one of my son's sermons. Let us be the ones of whom the world says, they walk hand in hand, even though they don't see eye to eye.