Monday, June 30, 2014

7/1/14- Who May Partake in the Sacrament

We hold that baptism applies as much to the children of the faithful as to those who are of age and discretion, and so we condemn the error of the Anabaptists, who deny that children should be baptized before they have faith and understanding. But we hold that the Supper of the Lord is only for those who are of the household of faith and can try and examine themselves both in their faith and their duty to their neighbors. Those who eat and drink at that holy table without faith, or without peace and goodwill to their brethren, eat unworthily. This is the reason why ministers in our Kirk make public and individual examination of those who are to be admitted to the table of the Lord Jesus. (Scots Confession 23)

27So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 

The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off to all whom the Lord your God will call.  (Acts 2:39)

Let the little children come to me and forbid them not. (Lk. 18:16)  For whoever welcomes a little child welcomes me...(Matthew 18:5)

Thoughts: Children are welcome.  In the Old Testament this was shown in circumcision- that they were a part of the household of faith- and that God;'s grace rested on children even before they could respond.  In the New Testament Jesus reminded his disciples who would only welcome adults that children should be welcomed to him as well.  Baptism is for men and women, and it is for children of the faithful as well as adults.  Baptism is the great equalizer between the poor and the rich, slave and free.  It is the great equalizer in age as well- for the grace of God that claims us is not simply up to us- but it is a calling of God.  
    Communion is a sustaining of those who have been initiated in baptism.  It is not for those who do not believe or are not able to understand/discern the Lord's body and blood (1 Cor. 11:29).
Baptism is an initiation, communion is a sustaining rite.  


Prayer: Lord, thank you that your grace calls us and sustains us.  Thank you that when we did not understand fully, you understood and poured your grace on us.  






Saturday, June 28, 2014

6/29/14- Right Administration of the Sacraments

That sacraments be rightly ministered, we judge two things requisite: the one, that they be ministered by lawful ministers, whom we affirm to be only they that are appointed to the preaching of the word, or into whose mouths God has put some sermon of exhortation, they being men lawfully chosen thereto by some kirk. The other, that they be ministered in such elements, and in such sort, as God has appointed; else, we affirm that they cease to be right sacraments of Christ Jesus.
... For Christ Jesus said, Take, eat, etc. Do ye this in remembrance of me.[1] By which words and charge he sanctified bread and wine, to be the sacrament of his body and blood, to the end that the one should be eaten, and that all should drink of the other; and not that they should be kept to be worshipped, and honoured as God... stealing from the people the one part of the sacrament: to wit, the blessed cup.
Moreover, that the sacraments be rightly used, it is required that the end and cause why the sacraments were instituted be understood and observed, as well of the minister, as the receivers. For if the opinion be changed in the receiver, the right use ceases: which is most evident by the rejection of the sacrifices; as also if the teacher plainly teaches false doctrine, which were odious and abominable before God (albeit they were his own ordinances), because that wicked men use them to another end than God has ordained.  (Scots Confession Chapter 22)

23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord(1 Corinthians 11:23-27)

Thoughts: In Knox's day the sacraments were seen as the main portion of the Roman Catholic Church.  Thus excommunication (taking away of the sacrament) was seen as a sign the person excommunicated would not be able to make the journey to heaven.  In this time of change, everything was up for evaluation.  Some, like the Anabaptists, were saying they did not need the sacraments at all (the Evangelical Church still says this).  The Anabaptists also did away with ordained ministers.  Zwingli, whose followers later united with the Calvinists, was saying the sacraments were only a sign but not a true seal or a sacrament per se- with no extra benefit than remembering the actions of Christ and fulfilling Christ's command to "do this in remembrance of me."  But Knox followed his teacher Calvin in saying that there was a spiritual benefit to the supper- a spiritual but not a physical presence of Christ.  All this seems foreign to secular or even modern theological ears.  Yet, many a person has experienced the presence of God- something special in baptism or the Lord's Supper.
      To make sure it is done right, right teaching should be given about it so that it is not done superstitiously but with heart-mind-soul united in focus.  Thus a trained minister should perform the rite so that no one is distracted by the one leading the service.  Knox also carefully guarded that nothing extra be added to make the sacrament more special- special oil, ornaments, etc.  The sacrament is made special not by our adding anything but by the plain presence of Christ.  This is definitely a Reformed emphasis.  Many Presbyterians, when they go to the Holy Land and see the sites ornaments with gold, tapestry, and candles think that such ornamentation takes away from the site.  They would rather see the walls of the cave Jesus was born in, or the walls of the Holy Sepulchre.  Our ornamentation- though well intentioned- may actually detract from the holy moment. 

Prayer: Lord, may my focus be on you in baptism and communion.  May we handle holy things in holy ways that please you. 


Friday, June 27, 2014

6/28/14- Lack of Power of Asemblies

As we do not rashly damn that which godly men, assembled together in general councils, lawfully gathered, have proponed unto us; so without just examination dare we not receive whatsoever is obtruded unto men under the name of general councils. For plain it is, as they were men, so have some of them manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance.[1] So far then as the council proves the determination and commandment that it gives by the plain word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace the same. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend to forge unto us new articles of our faith, or to make constitutions repugning to the word of God, then utterly we must refuse the same as the doctrine of devils, which draws our souls from the voice of our only God to follow the doctrines and constitutions of men.[2] (Scots Confession)

Thoughts: The Scot's Confession reminds us that the power of the Church does not come from its response to God's Word (our confession), but from God's Word itself.  For some reason the PCUSA thinks it may ignore scripture and confessions to make a statement on homosexual relationships.  Assemblies reform according to the Word of God in scripture- or they should not reform at all.  To try to change against the scripture will surely destroy church uniy. 


Prayer: May I hear you speaking.  Give me grace to respond.  

Council of Trent

Thursday, June 26, 2014

6/27/14- The way of the Prophet

1Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachina son of Jehoiakim. 2Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet. (Jeremiah 37)

Thoughts: Jeremiah was called to be faithful.  The people were corrupted with Baal (the fertility god) and his worship.  Jeremiah was called to proclaim God's Word without leaving, fleeing, parting, or running away.  The faithful in the land- and there were some- were not told to flee and form a new Israel.  The model for this nation is the model for the church.  Never does scripture tell us to divide and form new communities when the church is hard to live with, or is corrupt, or even deserves death (as they did in Jeremiah's day).   Ezekiel was told to be a watchman whether they listened or failed to listen (Ezekiel 33 and 37).  The Church today needs prophets- people who will not flinch at proclaiming the truth.  The truth is we are in a culture ripe with sexual immorality.  Pornography is epidemic, divorce is a plague, living together without marriage and having babies outside of wedlock are in the majority these days, and homosexual sexual immorality is only one among many symptoms of this sexual consumption.  We are called to hold forth a better way- a way proclaimed in scripture.  The way of the prophet goes beyond being in exile or being a remnant.  The way of the prophet holds out the light in the darkness of the culture and the darkness when the church is corrupted by the world around it. 

Prayer: Lord, may the churches of our day hold forth truth in love and proclaim, as the prophets did, a better way of life.  May their proclamation and faithfulness bear fruit to you as a sacrifice.  


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

6/26/14- Doing Good

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Thoughts: Whatever you do, do it strong says Ecclesiastes- for that is living. 
Whatever you do, do it for Christ with thanksgiving, says Colossians- for that is eternal living.
The difference one doesn't care what  you do as long as you are doing it.  This is animal-like and instinct at work.  The other adds a moral and spiritual dimension- honoring Christ.  The question is how can we do things in Christ's name- how do we know what he would approve of?  The church for two millenia has said that the scriptures tell us God's will- what to do in His name.  Neo-orthodoxy would add to do it like Jesus did.  The Jesus Seminar people doubt almost everything in scripture written about Jesus- so they have become practical atheists in terms of knowing God's will.  Many today believe in God intellectually, but do not know how to please Him, know Him, or have a relationship with Him because they cannot hear God speaking in scriptures.  They have been convinced to be skeptical and not step forward in faith.
     How do you know what is good and what is not?  Majority opinion (but popularity is fickle) , feeling (which come and go), scripture has proven itself as a healthy way to live- but some think not. So these practical, skeptical atheists are left with simply doing something hoping it might be good.  Whereas believers are assured of goodness by the Spirit assuring them through scripture. 


Prayer: Give me ears to hear, a heart to respond, and hands to do the work you call me to do.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

6/25/14- The Eternal Word

23for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.24For, "ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, 25BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER." And this is the word which was preached to you. (1 Peter 2:23-25)

6A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:7,8)

Thoughts: This contrasts our temporary nature to God's (and His Word's) eternal nature.  We are tied to the temporary as grass is tied to the passing weather.  But God is the Maker, and He made by His Word and makes us into new people ("born again") by His Word.  This is not just old language.  It is not that God made the world and stopped acting or making.  God shapes us, and cares for us.  If we do not believe that, then we should stop playing the religious game and get serious about a God who has the power to change us and change things.
    Disobedience is not new- though it always disguises itself as popular fashion.  We who are temporary, need to listen to the eternal voice.  To call that voice old-fashioned simply because it is eternal, or even because the older folk believe it, would be a terrible mistake.
    The Word is eternal in that God, who is eternal, is always speaking.  "Let there be light" is still working- in that light continues from that Word.  He is not silent.  He speaks in the fingerprints of creation- but that may be misinterpreted.  He speaks clearly in scripture- but the Spirit (who does not contradict what He has previously and eternally inspired/said), speaks convincingly and convictingly.  

Prayer: May I hear your eternal voice speaking to my heart today, O Lord.  




Monday, June 23, 2014

6/24/14-The Basis for Morals

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 2)

Thoughts; How do we know if something is good or not?   For some people, it is good if it appears or seems good and doesn't seem to hurt anyone else.  This was Adam and Eve's reasoning- recorded in Genesis.  "The woman saw the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye."  Eve might have said, "It looked good to me, it didn't seem to hurt anyone else, so I did it."  The reality is that this sin hurt everyone else.  Sin always has ripple effects even if we think it is just between me and God.
    The first move out of the temptor's mouth was "Did God really say?"  Doubting belief in God and in God's Word is the first step.  If we cannot listen to what God tells us is good or not, we are on our own, without directions from the Maker.  But the Maker has not left us alone.  He has sent the Spirit and the Spirit speaks through the Word.
     The woman's response was more strict than God said.  God did not say to not "touch" the fruit.  But to her the rules seemed tough, and so she exaggerated their toughness.   Sometimes we may think that obeying God is impossible or only for very rare people. But God's directions have everyone in mind for their own good.  We are made and created to listen to God.
      Later Eve offered the fruit to Adam.  It could have been said in this story that 100% of the human population, including the latest human experts, human scholars, the best of humanity all agreed that it was okay to eat the fruit.  But simply because the majority agrees does not make a thing right.  The majority's opinion that wrong is right can make doing right- resisting temptation very hard.  We do not have to look  back very far in history to see this plainly.  Nazi majority and experts (holding to Nietzsche's theories) agreed to eliminate the Jews and those who were weak.  The Soviets likewise agreed to the Gulags for those who disagreed with Stalin and his adherents.  The Hutus thought it was fine to eliminate the Tutsis in Rwanda.  During the Clinton administration a huge moral change occurred in our country driven by polls instead of scripture or reason.  There is obvious danger in this (given by the above examples).
      Good is not determined by how it feels, how it looks, if other people think it is okay.  Good is determined by the Maker.  He wants us to listen.

Prayer; Help, me , O Lord, to have ears to hear and heart to obey.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

6/23/14 To Do GoodWorks

10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:19=0)

We are created to do good.  We are not made to do evil.  We are not made to feel comfortable, or to only be interested in ourselves or our family.  Instead, we are made to do good.  

This week our church will have a week long "GOoDWorks Blitz".  It is an opportunity to help people with housing needs- but it is more than just renovation work.  It is touching lives- both ours and theirs. It is rubbing elbows with each other, but also with those in a different culture in our own area.  It is creating community by doing a good project in the name of Jesus.  

Prayer: Lord, you made me to make a difference.  Help me to do that this week.  
\

Saturday, June 21, 2014

6/22/14- Thyatira

18“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.21I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
24Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ (Revelation 2)

Thoughts: This is a great passage to think on.  Jesus is writing to the church in Thyatira.  It could just as well be our church.  The church had love, and served, and were trying hard to keep it together.  But the problem was the tolerance of Jezebel.  The first Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, who promoted sexual immorality and the worship of the fertility god Baal. 
     
     Those who did not give into this teaching were not told to leave and form a pure church, but instead called to stay and hold onto what they have until Jesus comes.  


Prayer: Help me to hold on to faithfulness, even when times are hard.  





Friday, June 20, 2014

6/21/14- CDo not be afraid

8“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
14Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 41:8-14)

Thoughts: It would be easy to be afraid in a day in which many are falling away from faith, many are slipping into immorality, and the church itself is waffling into approving what the Bible does not approve.  It is easy to be afraid when, as the Bible says, "The foundations are being destroyed."
God is God.  He is our help, our redeemer, and our strength.  In times of trouble, God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. We do not need to be afraid, or be dismayed, or seek to escape our trouble.  Instead, we can hold onto God and trust in His deliverance and help. 

Prayer: Lord, be with me.  Calm my fears in tough times.  


6/20/14- Halverson Benedction

You go nowhere by accident.
Wherever you go, God is sending you there.
Wherever you are, God has put you there.
He has a purpose in your being there.
Christ, who indwells in you, has something He wants to do through you,
wherever you are.
Believe this, and go in His grace, and love, and power. Amen! 

This is the benediction of Richard Halverson (1916-1995) who was a PCUSA pastor and chaplain to the U.S. Senate.   I like it alot- and rediscovered it at General Assembly.  It reminds us  we have a purpose, and that God calls us  to follow Christ wherever we are.  It is a benediction in that it commissions us to go with God's call and blessing.   I have discovered brilliant minds sitll in the PCUSA  like Rev. Halverson's. 
Prayer: Lord, may your blessing about to me, and may I use your blessing to bless your name- reflecting your glory, love, and blessing. 




Thursday, June 19, 2014

6/19/14- Church in exile

1By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
5If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
8Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
9Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks. (Psalm 137)

Thoughts: Today the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) made an effort to redefine Christian Marriage.  They did so by immediately (as of 6/21) by allowing pastors to perform a "Christian marriage" in a state that allows same sex marriages.  To make this more digestible they also assured pastors that do not believe in LG marriages that they do not have to do so.
     The Book of Order was was also sent to the presbyteries to  be revised as follows:  “Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people (traditionally between a man and a woman) to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.”
     I cannot help but feel so very sad for our beloved church.  We have specifically repudiated scripture.  In fact we rejected an overture to add back into the Book of Order that we are "to obey scripture" with we are "to be guided by scripture."   This is the crux of the matter.  Many feel they can pick and choose which scripture they can obey.  Some of that is a silly hermeneutical folly that says that we must treat all scripture as the same- not recognizing differences in poetry, in cultural, dietary, or sacrificial admonitions- as if we must take the scripture woodenly or simply be "guided" by it.   But we ignore the admonition of our Lord that  if we love him we will obey him (John 14:26).
        The Presbyterian Church has had a rich history that it now repudiates.  We led the Protestant world in starting new mission stations (more than any other church).  We have had great theologians- Hodge, Dabney, Warfield, Leith, most of whom we repudiate now- and leave in their place mediocre and confusing post-modern theologians.  We have had great children ministries- leading the world in Sunday School starting, and children's schools, youth groups and colleges.  Most Presbyterian churches now have NO children and no youth.  The average age is 67 (an indication of death in about 20 years).  We have lost over 700,000 since our reunion in 1983, and half our membership since 1965.  While last year we lost 244 churches, we started 5.  Yet, the General Assembly applauds itself as if we are heading in the right direction.  We have forgotten how to listen, and our lack of repentance is a recipe for spiritual, mental, and physical death.
    I still believe we are called to be a part of such a body.  We are called to be a light in the dense darkness.  We are called to be a remnant.  Even when the prophets foresaw the destruction of Israel, they did not encourage the leaving of Israel to form a new nation.  Even in exile, the people considered themselves part of the nation of Israel.  We are called to be a remnant and right now in exile. Those who have taken over the church, should not expect us to rejoice in singing with them- our hearts are breaking because of our unfaithfulness, and willingness to go our own way no matter what scripture says.  

Prayer: Lord, there are times when your church shrinks to 12 or 120; or we may feel like Elijah- that we are the only one left.  But Lord, keep us- feed us with your love as you fed Elijah in a famine.  Strengthen us to make it through exile. 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

6/18/14- Restore our Joy

1When the Lord restored the fortunes ofa Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.b
2Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4Restore our fortunes,c Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126)

Thoughts:  Lord, restore our blessings.  The blessing that comes from listening to you first, and believing you can do more than we can ask or imagine.  Help us not to shrink back, but to follow you.  Help us to have joy again.  Restore our joy and our hope in you.  

Prayer: You alone are the lifter of our heads and restorer of our fortunes. 

6/17/14- Unity Thoughts

1How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore. (Psalm 133)

Thoughts: It is really easy to talk about love and to talk about unity but then ignore the very practical side of what divides us.
   People who are in power have the opportunity to keep unity by the agenda to a certain extent- by making sure it is on the agenda; by not focusing in on the divisive issues; by not being selfish in idealism by being willing to put other's agenda ahead of their own; by being patient (unity and patience go together); by listening with intensity; by being full of grace and love.  People who are in power can force their agenda on others, manipulate the truth, and that brings disunity.  This does not mean leaders should not lead in new and challenging ways.  But such leading is always done with sensitivity, grace, patience, and a sense of timing.  David did not build the Temple in his lifetime- but was willing to let the Temple be built by the next generation.  Impatience and wanting to get credit are often enemies to the unity that is so good.
   People who are in the congregation or the common people can cause disunity as well.  They can rebel.  They can become afraid and try to retreat from unity in order to maintain a sense of  safety/purity.  Gossip, rumor-spreading, protesting can disrupt unity.  This does not mean that people should not stand up for their beliefs- but such belief is always held in a context of the trust of love. 

Trust and patience are so important.  Jesus gave us the example of unity as he trusted in His Father.  He did not rebel against Rome though he had good cause and many urged him to.  He did not rebel against the Jewish authorities.  He told his disciples to put away their swords and was willing to die rather then fight.  But as He trusted in God, the Lord raised Him from the dead.  Unity always has hope- not in human systems- but that God can change things- even a cross into the resurrection!
  
Unity does not happen when everything is calm.  Unity happens in the clashes, in the conflicts, in the tough times.  A marriage is not unified just in the better, richer, healthier times.  A marriage is actually united when it survives the worse, poorer, sicker times and the couple learns to hold onto each other.  Unity is not uniformity.  In fact, uniformity masks the ability to unite across differences.  True unity is a gift of God- it is a blessing bestowed, oil flowing down.  But it is not wrong to say we must pray for it, be open to it, work for it, and treasure it.  

So I pray for unity in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  I pray for patience and not manipulation.  I pray that things would be done properly- decently and in order.  As the church is united in the hard times, the church shows the world she is different.  As the church is divided, the church destroys her witness and thus herself. 

Prayer: Lord, bring unity to your church.  Bring grace, love, patience, hope- yourself.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

6/16/14- Sharing Christ

17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Thoughts: Jim Skiminer, Scottish preacher at 1st Pres. Plymouth, MI, preached on this passage today.  His church and mine- though 500+ miles apart are very similar.  We have about 1200 members and about 400- 450 coming each week.  We are mission focused with strong youth groups.  We have more children.  But he preached a great sermon reminding us that we are to go out and serve and share.  
In the Motor City, he told about Tesla Motors, who makes innovative electric cars.  Ironically, they do not keep their patents to themselves but shares their technology open so that better cars can be made.    The same can be said of some of the best of the internet- which shares information freely in order to enhance human beings.  We are not to keep the gospel to ourselves, but share the love.  Great message that I wanted to pass on- to share the love. 

Prayer: Lord, all that I have is a gift from you.  Help me to share the blessings I have with others who need you.  

Tesla Car

6/15/14- Father's Day Thought

1The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2When the wicked advance against me
to devoura me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

Thoughts: Father's Day.  For many Dad is the rock- for others Dad is missing.  But God is the Heavenly Father who is always there- our light in darkness, our salvation when we are helpless.  So - where does Dad go when trouble comes? 

When trouble comes, one of the best places to go is to the house of the Lord.  The ironic thing is that for many, when trouble comes we want to retreat by ourselves.  But the best thing is not a psychological- fetal- position, but to open ourselves to the Lord's help- in worship.  For God is our shield- he protects us when we are being attacked (physically, mentally, spiritually).  He is the great shield who hides us- protecting us like a shelter from the rain.  It gives us solid confidence to know we have such a place to go.  For those who do not believe such a shelter is missing and they must stand against the arrows of life without sure hope, without sure victory, and without a solid shelter.  So, yes, Lord, one thing I seek- You!

Prayer: Lord, when I seek you, may I find you and your help for me.