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Showing posts from July, 2011

No Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 “Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:32-34 For the past few weeks I have been not so gently invited to fall into fear. This invitation of course comes from our enemy. It started out with things from the past. Those almost did me in and fear did take hold for a few brief hours and thanks be to God for the brevity of that time. Then because the past couldn’t get to me or at least not well enough the battle moved to the future. There wasn’t even a hint of victory there. I’ve wasted far too many days worrying about nex

What’s in a Name

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:12-13 I grew up in a city divided, not by angst or law or water but by nationality. While most of the teasing was lighthearted and there weren’t any real problems, still the city was clearly defined by section. The Irish, the Polish, the Italians, etc all had their own little niche. During my growing up years I was defined by nationality and religious denomination. It never occurred to me to find that odd. We were Irish first, Catholic second and oh yeah, American. I certainly saw myself as Irish more than American even though both of my parents were born right in that same city in Upstate New York. Years later while teaching a sixth grade religious education c

Vashti’s Disrespect

But when the attendant delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger. Then Memucan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes.” Esther 1:12, 16 If you don’t know the whole story here, I suggest you read it. For one thing, this message will make more sense, but mostly because it is a great story. The Queen Vashti part isn’t terribly long but it sets the scene for the entire book of Esther. Xerxes is mad! His wife has embarrassed him and the story goes on from there. It seems a small moment but it has huge consequences. I love the book of Esther and have read it a few times as well as doing a couple of Bible studies about it. No matter how many times I read it I am struck by the level of disrespect Queen Vashti shows to her husband. He sends for her, asking her to come t

Ripped Open

And every heart, And every soul, And every body Has got a God shaped hole “God Shaped Hole” Audio Adrenaline I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 Do you watch medical shows? I do on occasion and I remember fondly the days of Marcus Welby, M.D. when they didn’t show things in such living color. The producers of the current day medical dramas want us to believe that we are watching real surgery and they get as close as they can to looking like the actual event. It’s graphic and it’s gross. I especially dislike the heart scenes where they pry open the chest, which we see and hear leaving, for me, no comfort zone. These are not the shows to watch while eating popcorn or, heaven help us, salsa. I doubt very much that real heart surgery includes the banter about who’s dating who and why someone else is getting divorced. I certainly hope that true medical professionals keep their

Faith like Faith’s

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 To become like little children… Isn’t that kind of the opposite of what we tell our children day in and day out? We say, “grow up” “don’t act like a baby” and things of that nature. Here, Jesus is not advocating throw down tantrums or pouting. He isn’t saying that we should all walk around grabbing what we want and saying, “mine!” No, what he is saying is that there is something enormous in the simple faith of a child. My granddaughter, appropriately named Faith, taught me a lesson the other day that I will not soon forget. I had received a very sad email from my dearest friend Mary. The contents of the message just broke my heart. Mary is over a thousand miles away from me right now and I felt at a loss. How could I help? Then I realized that at that moment I had two very young, ver

An Eye Opener

“As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt The servant fell on his knees before him, ‘Be patient with me’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go” But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.” “Then the master called the servant in. “you wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’” Matthew 18:24-28, 32-33 The Scriptures may have been written a very long time ago but some situations seem to be pulled right out of those verses. Just the other day I witnessed the reaction of a pers

Sermons

Peter replied, “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off---for all whom the Lord our God will call. Acts 2:38-39 Many of the teachings I have read refer to this passage as Peter’s first sermon. In many of today’s churches only a certain few people are able to preach. We want to be sure that the Scripture reference used are accurate and that they aren’t going to offend anyone. The pastors of most churches spend hours upon hours creating and polishing the sermons they present. Peter didn’t do that, exactly as evidenced by Acts 3:13. The members of the Sanhedrin saw him as “unschooled.” Peter didn’t pull out dissertations by learned men. He didn’t consult websites and he didn’t need a screen for his film clips. All Peter needed was a crowd willing to listen and his own experiences. When the crowds

Without Sin

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing. Galatians 2:21 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John: 1:10 A man I know is convinced that if we live well enough and try hard enough that we can lead sinless lives. I disagree and I believe that the Scriptures above back me up. This man is not alone. He has several friends who think the same thing. I don’t know all of them but I know a few. To me, the biggest sin I see among them is pride, the inflated sense of self that says I can do this thing if I try hard enough. To that I say, good luck. Like many people I know, I still waste a fair amount of time trying really hard. Once in awhile something good will come of all that trying but mostly it breeds frustration and anxiousness. At its worst it breeds bitterness because I try so hard and where is God? I’ll tell you where He is. He’s waiting patiently

Mercy

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 People talk about Scripture being alive, breathing. I like that concept. There are a few passages that are very much like dear friends to me. Micah 6:8, Psalm 23, John 1:1-2, Philippians 2:5-11, etc. etc. These two verses from James, in particular the last four words are the top of the heap. "Mercy triumphs over judgment.” I want my life to read like Micah 6:8 but I fall so very short! This one, this sentence in James however, this is an integral part of my life. That is not to my credit, really. I believe myself to be a merciful person yes, but only because so very much of God’s mercy has made its way into my life. Mercy flows to me all the time. Maybe it’s the same for everyone and I’m just more aware of it, in any case, I have several examples of ways in which I have re

Ask If You Dare

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand.” “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Job 38:4, 40:2 Wow! I don’t know how you feel when you read those words but to be honest, they make me a little nervous. For all of chapter 38 and 39 God speaks to Job in the same vein. Todd Agnew has a song called “Where Were You” that is kind of the Reader’s Digest version of those chapters. The song makes me squirm a bit too. Have you ever questioned God? If your answer is no, can you respond to this message or somehow find me and tell me your story? Frankly, I cannot imagine getting from point A, “God? Yeah, I’ve heard of Him” to point B, “My God and King” without asking questions but maybe that’s just me. All facetiousness aside, I would love to be more trusting, to simply let God be God. After all, He clearly doesn’t need my permission. God is pretty blunt with Job. In the Scripture it’s all written so p

Frightened or Firm

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 Reading a book by Beth Moore, I fell in love with her description of two different types of relationship with God. In speaking of the Israelites she said, “Did they want a firm place to stand or an emergency room to visit?” Personally, I’ll take both. My husband and I attend a church with a long and impressive sounding name. Our pastor, Sam, has affectionately nicknamed it “The Ship” for reasons that relate to Beth’s question. Sam told us this hilarious story of receiving a model of a hospital ship from his father, a doctor. He related his immense disappointment in the gift, as he would have much preferred a battleship. But, that day, as he told the story, he was thinking more in terms of healing and how desperately he wants to be a part of the healing process for t

If/Then

Men at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. Job12:5 She sits in her big comfy chair, in her temperature controlled, nicely furnished and decorated home. She thinks of all the things she owns out right and how her few bills are quite adequately covered by her large income. She is surrounded by travel brochures given wide choices of how to spend her disposable income. She thinks of her wonderful family and her large circle of friends. Then for some reason her mind drifts to the conversation she had with her neighbor, the one who is struggling to keep her home. She remembers the day the mailman switched their mail and how many late notices there were in the pile for her neighbor. It’s been quite awhile since any of the neighbor’s children came to visit and goodness, the way the woman bent her ear the other day, she must not have any friends at all. She can’t help but wonder what the neighbor did to bring such circumstances into her life. But th

The Limp

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, For you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 I’m walking with a limp these days. The limp is from an old injury, one that when I mistreat it, flairs up and causes me pain. This morning, limping through my den, it was a painful reminder, literally, of my spiritual walk. Praise God, I am not limping spiritually right this minute, but I was a little earlier and quite frankly, I do too much of the time. The truth is I am not at all where I want to be spiritually, but I hope and pray that I am where God wants me to be for now. My spiritual limp comes from injuries as well. It comes from life, a life lived with other flawed human beings who because of their injuries inflicted pain on me. I in turn have caused pain to others. It’s a horribly vicious cycle and would be devastating to think about if it weren’t for the positive side. For the past several months I have been work

Gestures

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father, who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23 These verses are a little scary! When I read them I immediately begin to assess my relationship with God. Do I show love? Am I doing His will? I always end up in the same place, asking God to show me how to love and serve Him. That seems a tad strange to me even as I am doing it. There is a conversation that I have had with my husband that I bet most people would find familiar. Whether you are male or female I think it would be safe to say that if you are in a relationship that’s older than a month or so you know this script from one side or the other. Something in the relationship goes a little south. Someone