Archive for September, 2011

Friday, September 30th Philippians 2:1-11

September 30, 2011

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:1-11

 

I don’t know when I first heard the words “enlightened self interest.”  That is the idea that we best serve our own interests when we act in the best interests of others.  I don’t know where it first came from but it feels to me like its a little slippery.  “Self” still gets center stage.

 

What Paul here is encouraging is more than figuring out how to get our way by trying to align ourselves with the interests of others.  He is doing more than encouraging the more cantankerous of the Philippians to just “get along.”  Instead, he is putting flesh on the bones of following Jesus.

 

What DID Jesus do?

 

In most of our Bibles, these verses from Philippians are set in print to look like poetry.  Often Bible commentaries will suggest that these are the words of an “early Christian hymn.”  This is what the earliest Christians were taught about Jesus – unlike the worldly powers that be that strive for dominance and power, Jesus humbled himself.  He aligned with the lowest of the low.  His death was an act of obedience.  God exalted him in his resurrection.

 

We often forget that Paul wrote his letters before any of the gospels were written down.  Quite frankly, we don’t know how many of the stories about Jesus that Paul actually knew because he never retells any in his letters.  “Remember the time when Jesus…” for Paul is pretty much limited to Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

 

No one convinced Paul to follow Jesus.  Paul didn’t change his life around on his own because following Jesus suddenly seemed to make sense.  In his own words, Paul says that “For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11-12

 

From the beginning, the faith for Paul was less about him than it was about what God might want to do through him. Paul wasn’t acting out of self interest but always seeking to discern and follow God’s interest.  His enlightenment wasn’t about human wisdom but about the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

To follow Jesus then truly means to surrender, to let go, to let God.  It means exactly that.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, so often it feels like we have some kind of scoreboard in our heads, always trying to figure out where we stand, what we can get out of the things we do and say.  We measure ourselves over against others.  Help us let go of all of that and simply be.  Simply be who we are in you, who we were created to be and who you have redeemed.  Let it be enough that we do our part, let enough be enough.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Advertisements

Thursday, September 29th John 13:33-35

September 29, 2011

Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:33-35

 

Yesterday we heard the Great Commission; today we hear the Great Commandment.  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another…by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Often we misunderstand the intentions behind these two commands from Jesus.  We think that the Great Commission is about “out-reach”, about mission outside the church, and the Great Commandment is about “in-reach”, about ministry inside the church.  Actually, both commands are about both mission and ministry.  The problem with our misunderstanding is that we end up doing neither.

 

Far too often we get so busy with all that goes into the in-reach side of the Great Commission (all the effort and apparatus it takes for weekly worship, baptizing babies of the congregation, Christian education) that we never really get around to mission, to reaching new people, making new disciples, or even supporting missionaries who do.

 

Far too often, our best attempts at church fellowship, the in-reach side of the Great Commandment, leaves the majority of our people untouched.  We do church life in a manner that ends up with fellow members being, at best, acquaintances.  Truly loving one another requires a depth of commitment and investment that is much closer to brother and sister than friends.  It takes time together.  Talking about things that matter.  Disclosing things that we would rather not say.  Working side by side to make a difference in the world.

 

Yet…

 

We ought never forget the promises attached to both of these commands.  In the Great Commission, Jesus promises to always with be us, in us, around us.  Jesus will never leave us.  And in the Great Commandment, his call to love is preceded by the love he has always shown, and continues to show, to us.  We love because God first loved us.

 

As we remember these promises, a new light shines on the path before us.  We can begin to realize that “church” and all we associate with a building and what happens inside it is not Jesus’ point.  Jesus’ concern is for the world.  For those living disconnected from Christian community, for those who will see new hope for their own lives when they see Christian people acting with love in the world.

 

We each have a role to play in that.  We each have a part that no one else can play.  Both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment have been entrusted to us.  It’s time for us to show up, suit up and get in the game.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, thank you again for those who have reached out to us and taught us about you.  Thank you for the living signs of your love we see when we see ordinary Christians love in extraordinary ways through their service, concern and generosity.  Help us do our part in your plan to redeem the world.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20

September 28, 2011

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

Something happened in the lives of those first disciples.  Something big.  Something transformational.  Something changed their lives.

Fishermen became missionaries.  A tax collector became a teacher.  A small group of disciples, huddling in fear behind locked doors, began boldly telling the Jesus story in the marketplace and the public square.  Why?

I suppose you could argue that they were finally buckling down and getting obedient.  They did it because Jesus told them to do it.  They did it out of duty and a sense of obligation.  That answer doesn’t sound right to me.

Far better…they could hardly help themselves.  They were so overwhelmed – despite their doubts and misgivings – by the power of Jesus, the hope of the resurrection, and the personal transformations they saw in their own lives, that they felt compelled to do it.  They couldn’t keep it to themselves.  Nothing mattered more than sharing the story, than living the Jesus way, than becoming part of this radical new community of love, grace and peace.

My sense is that they had a deep sense of the continuing presence of Jesus in their lives and in their new community of followers of Jesus.  They lived with a deep sense of God’s presence, power and provision.

So they told the story.  They gathered for worship.  They wrote down their stories to better help them teach others.  They shared what they had with one another.  They welcomed and discipled new people.  They made deep personal sacrifices.  They became the living Body of Christ for the good of the world.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with duty, with obligation, with responsibility.  Most Christian congregations wouldn’t exist without members who do everything possible to get the bills paid, fill some pews on Sunday, and do a few things to be helpful in the world.  But there is often little fire in the bellies of such folk (unless someone else sits in their pew or they start talking about the church budget).  Today, these congregations tend to get older and smaller.

But what happens when people take these Great Commission verses to heart?  You see something utterly different.  You see congregations that act like those first disciples.  They are motivated by love, not obligation.  They are filled with gratitude and profound joy.  They remember what life was like before surrendering to Jesus.  They have a passion for connecting with new people, and a willingness to do anything to see that happen.  Their congregations explode with new life. 

Meditate for a moment now on that long ago mountain top.  You are there.  Jesus speaks personally to you, both the challenge to GO and the promise that he will go with you.  Your willingness to follow and to carry the good news into the world remains God’s only plan.  If not you, who?  If not now, when?

Let us pray:  Sometimes Lord we worry that you have placed too much trust in us.  We worry that we can’t do what you have called us to do.  We sense that we can’t will ourselves to do your will.  So we need the fire of your Holy Spirit to come upon us.  We need you to walk through the locked doors of our hearts.  Use us as you will to carry the message of your love into the lives of the people you send our way.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Matthew 9:1-8

September 27, 2011

And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. Matthew 9:1-8

 

Let’s not let this story get too complicated.  Jesus crosses the sea and runs into two groups of people. 

 

One is a group of people carrying a paralyzed friend on a bed.  The text says “when he saw their faith”, the faith of the friends, then Jesus told the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven.  Think about that for a second. 

 

Faith looks like a group of people carrying a paralyzed man on a bed through town.  In response to such faith, Jesus forgives sins which means a relationship is restored.  Faith – active faith, helpful faith, the kind of faith that helps paralyzed people – leads to forgiveness and the re-establishment of a relationship.

 

Then he sees another group of people.  The scribes make themselves known when they overhear Jesus forgiving a paralyzed man.  Where Jesus sees faith, they see blasphemy.  Where Jesus reaches toward the paralyzed man, they distance themselves from Jesus.  Judgment breaks off a relationship.

 

In response to the judgment of the scribes, Jesus heals the paralyzed man.

 

The crowds saw the whole exchange and went away amazed.  The paralyzed man went away carrying his own bed.  The scribes went away shocked, disgusted and angry.

 

Who in this story are you?  Who do you want to be?  Are you the one who is hurting and dependant on your friends?  Take heart, Jesus sees that sort of thing with compassion.  Are you the one carrying your friend?  Good for you, that is faith in action. 

 

Are you the one carrying disgust, anger, judging others, judging self, judging God? You seem to have missed the point. The story doesn’t end well for you.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, thank you for the times when we have been carried along by the faith of others.  Thank you for opportunities to be helpful.  Forgive us for the times we have been blinded by our judgments of others.  Forgive us, that we might walk in the light of your love.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 1:21-28

September 26, 2011

“They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.”  Mark 1:21-28

 

This past weekend here at church we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our Faith House ministry.  Faith House provides an affordable home away from home for people seeking long term treatment at the Texas Medical Center, just down the road a bit from the church. Church volunteers both staff and manage the facility. 

 

It stays full because many people come to Houston for medical treatment.  The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is world renowned as a research and treatment facility.  People come here because it is known as the place to go.  It has authority based on both its track record and its reputation.

 

Jesus had neither when he entered the synagogue in Capernaum.  Although Nazareth wasn’t terribly far from Capernaum, it was far enough and the population immobile enough, that Jesus wasn’t a known quality. Yet, when given the opportunity to speak in the synagogue (picture a small group of people gathered for prayer and Bible study instead of a big official congregational gathering on Sunday morning), those gathered immediately sensed something different about Jesus.

 

He didn’t just quote what other smart and insightful scholars had said through the years, which would have been the way a scribe would teach.  He spoke directly about his understanding and personal experience of the faith.  He spoke with authority. 

 

Suddenly their conversation is disrupted by a man with an unclean spirit.  My first call was an urban church just off the main bus line.  It wasn’t terrible unusual for some rather unbalanced characters to make their presence known in church. While we always practiced good hospitality, welcoming them and doing our best to see that they had a good experience at church, I’ve never seen what Jesus did that day. He commanded the unclean spirit to go…and it went.

 

Authority is one thing.  What one does with the authority is another.  Jesus used his authority to do good in people’s lives. 

 

The unclean spirits, very aware of their goal of bringing pain into people’s lives, immediately sense how dangerous Jesus is.  For the religious leaders, still quite blind to the potential pain they are causing in people’s lives, it will take a little longer to realize the same thing.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, there is a lot of pain in our world, even in our lives.  You are the Author of life and have authority over all that troubles us.  May we recognize that authority.  May we bring our hurts and cares to you.  May you use us to bring respite and hope to others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 1:25-31

September 23, 2011

“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:25-31

 

Several years ago there was a television ad campaign that featured all sorts of children, each saying that they aspired to very humble careers and occupations.  It didn’t run long nor will it ever enter the halls of TV commercial fame.  There are reasons for that.

 

Yes, it did tap in to the cultural messages we receive our entire lifetimes.  “I dream of a position in mid-level management” is funny or at least witty when we are taught all the way through to want to be the boss, the CEO, to own our own thriving company.  The trouble is, the world’s largest companies only have room for one CEO at a time while the real good they do in the world depends on each of their thousands of employees all doing their part with excellence.

 

A cute commercial might sound clever in the ears of those who have “made it” but was insulting to the mass of people who help the “made it” person be successful.  Especially today, a time when 10% of those with skills who are actively seeking employment can’t find a position.  Then it is worse than insulting.

 

I think this is Paul’s point to the Corinthians.

 

As a cosmopolitan gathering of people in a large urban setting, the early Christians in Corinth carried their social standing into the room with them.  They couldn’t help that any more than we can.  It is what they DID with that standing that mattered.

 

When they saw one another as human beings, children of God, all dependent on the grace of God for life, their social trappings fell away.  It didn’t matter where they sat at the table.  It didn’t matter that some had more and some had less because those “with” freely shared with those “without.”  They were God’s family together.

 

But when their focus changed from their Christian identity to their wealth, poverty, social standing or status, their boasting, conscious or not, disrupted their community.  It divided them from one another.  It blinded them.

 

Paul’s prescription then is that they keep their eyes upon Jesus.  That they see one another through the lens of God’s love.  That they see the person behind the signs of social status.  Certainly such a view would seem foolish from a worldly point of view.  It would also be the only way of viewing the world that holds any hope at all for humanity.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, give us eyes to see the world, ourselves and each other as you do.  Give us hearts that love, ears that listen and hands that help.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Subscribe to Daily Devotions

September 23, 2011

Greetings everyone,

 

Yes, this week felt like the right week to begin sharing daily devotions again.  Thank you for the many comments and emails from those of you who have been on this list for a long time.

 

When these devotions first started, I wrote from a computer at church (because I didn’t have one at home), using a 14.4 dial up modem and an AOL account I started using a free floppy disk I got at Office Depot.  18 members of my congregation signed up that first Sunday I suggested it.  I had no idea then that we were living in the “good old days.”  Much has changed since 1997.

 

Today, I am using this WordPress blog to post the devotions.  Most of you mysteriously started seeing them on Monday because I still have your addresses subscribed via a Feedburner link.  The good thing is that these are free services for all of us.  The bad thing is that I don’t have any control over when the devotions will actually arrive in your inbox.

 

I have always had three primary purposes for writing daily devotions.  These haven’t changed. First, I write them to hold myself accountable for showing up with God and listening closely and personally to the Bible on a daily basis.  I find that spiritual discipline to be very helpful to me.  And second, as a pastor whose calling is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”, I hope that many people in my own congregation will find these helpful in their own spiritual discipline and daily devotion time.  And third, through the reach of the Internet, if anyone else might find these helpful, the more the merrier.

 

When I first began writing, I would write and send at night, hoping that the first message you would receive in the morning would be reflections on a Bible passage. Later, I started writing in the morning with the same goal.  Back then, using a paid service, you would receive the devotions immediately after I sent them.  At least for those of you in my time zone, you would get them in the morning.  Others around the world would have a reasonably trustworthy time when they would show up.

 

I also used to personally manage the subscriber email addresses.  When dozens became hundreds,that became impossible.  Now you have several options for reading the devotions.

 

1.  Subscribe through Feedburner.  For those of you who mysteriously started receiving daily devotions again, it is because you are subscribed through this free service.  The good thing is that you don’t have to change anything if this works for you.  The bad thing is that I have no control over when the messages are actually sent out.  It seems to be early evening now.  That could change any time.

 

2. FOLLOW this blog.  If you point your internet browser to https://revkerry.wordpress.com, you will see the latest devotion I posted at the top of the list.  Somewhere you will see the word “FOLLOW”.  If you click that, enter your email address, and sign up, you will receive the devotion as soon as I post it.

 

3.  Set Daily Devotions as a favorite, or a bookmark, in your browser.  Then you could just read it on the internet whether or not you have subscribed via email or RSS reader.

 

Thank you and I hope we continue this walk together for many years to come.

 

Philippians 1:21-30

September 22, 2011

“For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.” 

 

“Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”  Philippians 1:21-30

 

Life is hard.  Even as a person of faith, life is hard.  Even when just about everything is going well in our own personal lives, our hearts are always going out to someone else who is suffering.  (For that is the beat of a Christian heart…when one suffers, we all suffer.)

 

But here the Apostle Paul isn’t speaking out of depression or despair – “my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is better” – he just wants to see what is behind the curtain.  He wants that day to come when faith won’t be needed because we will know as we have always been fully know.  That day when hope won’t be necessary because our deepest hopes will be fulfilled.  That day when only love is left.  Forever.

 

I want that day too.  I look forward to all of that…or whatever will be.  If I didn’t believe in life after death, if I didn’t believe in the resurrection, I wouldn’t do what I do.  I would be, we would be, foolish.

 

But Paul knows he still has work to do.  “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.”  People depend on him.  He has a calling to fulfill.  He is living God’s holy purpose for his life and that is all Paul can do.  The rest of the stuff, the ever-after stuff, is up to God.  For now, Paul must do what only Paul can do, for the good of all those yet to come.

 

It is the same for us.  Only we can do what only we can do.  One day at a time.  One step at a time.  One action at a time.

 

Knowing all of this puts life in perspective.  Changing a baby’s diaper takes on a certain holiness, a “give us this day our daily bread” kind of spin.  Selling one more item that will be useful in the life of someone else.  Listening, just now, to a hurting friend.  All of it, every moment of every day, is one step closer to that day at the end.  But there is no way to get there without all these little steps along the way.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, may we be persistent and faithful, even in the face of all that is hard and discouraging.  Thank you for the promise of eternal life and for the reality of that eternal life breaking into the little moments of each day between now and then.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Matthew 19:16-26

September 21, 2011

Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:16-26

 

It is best not to hold Jesus to a literal enumeration of the 10 Commandments.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” isn’t on the famous list on the stone tablets…but it flows through the heart of most of them.  It might even be the point of the whole bunch.  Jesus is very interested in the heart of the matter.

 

A rich young man asks a wonderful question.  “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

 

What is wonderful about that question isn’t the implicit theology.  The implicit theology is the idea that there is something that we HAVE to do to GET eternal life.  That isn’t good news, it is a heavy expectation bound to lead to disappointment.  It is a slap in the face of God’s grace, an immature “I want to do it by myself!” kind of childishness.  It’s the next thing on the list for the guy who has everything.

 

No, what is wonderful about his question is that this young man, who seems to have it all, obviously is aware that he is missing the point in his life.  Outwardly, he has everything that people might aspire to.  He is living the American Dream.  He has power, position, privilege, and a very fat wallet.  But he is very aware – as are most of us and most of the people we know – that there is something else.  Something missing.  Call it meaning or purpose or satisfaction or contentment or centeredness or completion or whatever you want to call it.  Call it simply having a life centered on something other than love, something other than God.

 

And Jesus’ answer to him, and to us, is very simple:  If your hands are too full, of yourself, of your stuff, even of your own self righteousness, then your hands are too full for God.  The only way that God will fit is if you let it all go.  Let everything go. Make following Jesus your aim and the odds are good that everything in your life will look very different to you.  It will be like being born again.

 

Let us pray:  Jesus, you are Lord of life, be Lord of our lives.  Make it crystal clear what is blocking us, what is weighing us down, that we might let go and let you have free reign in our lives.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Isaiah 55:5-9

September 20, 2011

“See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:5-9

 

We’re doing some new things in the life of our congregation these days.  Along with the subtle little changes that always happen when a new pastor comes to town, we are also making some changes in how we do Christian learning.  Believe me, this is not happening without a bit of anxiety here and there.

 

The fundamental driver behind re-thinking learning (along with the realization that a whole bunch of people haven’t been learning a whole lot along the way) is returning to the old idea that the home is the primary location for teaching the faith.  The church exists to come alongside parents, to equip them, that they become the primary models and incubators for faith.

 

Hence the anxiety.

 

Most of us are quite aware that “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts”, that “God’s ways are not our ways”.  That is precisely the problem.  We have lots of parents and other adults who feel very insecure about their understanding of the faith, their appreciation and knowledge of the Bible, and even how the faith affects their daily lives.  So now when their congregational leaders start encouraging them to open up, to share themselves a bit, to take some risks in engaging their kids in new ways, it is scary.

 

But what is so scary about God knowing a whole lot more than we do?  What is so striking about the realization that life is, and will always pretty much be, a mystery to us?  What possible benefit is there to realize that we have a lot of growing up and learning to do?

 

For God very clearly tells us all we need to know.  What is confusing about “Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”?

 

Seek the Lord.  Call upon him.  Ask for help.  Rely on him.  Trust him.

 

Anytime that life takes a turn toward the scary, those are always good moves for us to make.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, far too often we rely only on ourselves, for we still want to be in charge, we still want to set the agenda for our lives.  Yet life is far too complex for us and there is always too much that we don’t know.  Come to us when we don’t know where else to turn.  Teach us and lead us to understand only what we need to know to do the next right thing in our lives.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.