Measure Twice…Cut Once

A friend asked me the other day why we used “the Rent song” at church on my last Sunday in Glassboro. I simply had to smile because there was no easy answer to that question. I am unabashedly a musical fan and that song from Rent has been one of my favorites since the first time that I have heard it sung. Add to that the powerful lyrics and the answer becomes a simple, “how could we not use the song?” Preparing to end one chapter of ministry and begin another has had me asking myself time and time again. “How do you measure – measure a year?”

I have been measuring it by thinking of the smiles on young children’s faces as they receive Christmas gifts or find a hidden Easter egg. I measure it in costumed children and adults invading the church parking lot for trunk or treat. I measure it with the look on a teacher’s face as we provide a piece of equipment that the school district was unable to give them. I measure it with the sounds of babies filling the sanctuary in the contemporary worship service. I measure it in tears that I have shed in the time of transition that Ginny and I have been going through.  I measure it in laughs we have shared with friends in gatherings over the last few months. I measure it in lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst. 

Now as I sit in a coffee shop in Ocean City, the question needs answering once again. How will I measure this time? What will be the measuring stick used as I look at this time. I think once again it will be about a transformed community and radically changed lives. So each day becomes a chance to share love and show love. Each moment becomes an opportunity to show the world what Jesus means to me. Each minute is a chance to enjoy all that God has provided and to help others find ways to do the same thing. 

I can’t wait to get started!   

End scene?

empty chair

Today’s Reading John 17-21

Today is the 40th day of our 40 day NT Reading Challenge. If you have followed us through, well done. hopefully you have grown closer to Jesus during this time. If you are like me, you have noticed something in the scripture that you have not seen before. It happens. We have been hearing and reading these stories since we were little children. If we are not careful they become background noise.

Yet, if you take the time and read them again and I mean really read them something happens. You are drawn to the Messiah in a new and powerful way. It is not something you need to go to seminary to understand or have someone else who went to seminary explain it to you. No, it is plain as can be.

You are loved.

God sent his son for you. The New Testament, just like the Old Testament is a love letter from God to you. It tells of a powerful and sacrificial love. A love that changed everything and continues to do just that.

We are at the end of that letter and perhaps wondering is this all? Is it over? What do I do now.

Well it seems pretty clear to me that now comes the fun part. It is time to get up and go live out that love with the world. It is the day before Easter after all. We are getting ready to celebrate a radical love that is found in the emptiness of the tomb. How cool is that?

Go have fun sharing the story of Jesus. Go have fun telling people who changed your life. Invite a friend to church tomorrow. Don’t just sit there! It is time to get up and tell the world!

Washing up

water.jpg

Today’s Reading John 11-16

Last night, we came together as a church and remembered the Last supper. We shared in a meal together and had some laughs and good fellowship. We then transitioned into a time of Holy Communion as we obeyed the words of Jesus “do this and remember me”. We were nearing our end of time together and then we made one final transition.

I began by reading the beginning of John 13, as Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. We had set three water basins around the room. We had tried the foot washing ritual the last several years and had limited participation. I began to talk about Jesus’ call to be a servant. This one message resonated last night to me as I was reading from the Gospel, “it is not about me”. Jesus wanted us to know that we were all called to be in service to the other.

I encouraged everyone to go to a basin and have their hands washed by someone else in the room and then to do the same for someone else. I washed a couple people’s hands and then stood back and watched. People began to respond and the emotion present was powerful. Everyone had a moment around the tables of connection.

I left that meal last night and hurried to a local funeral home to officiate a funeral. On my way to the funeral home, I listened to a radio broadcast that referenced the Good Samaritan and talking about people around us in the greatest needs being V.I.P’s. It was an intriguing conversation.

I then stepped into the room at the funeral home and witnessed that same emotion and connection I had seen at our dinner. People were celebrating a life, long before I had the opportunity to tell them that was what we were there for that evening. People were treating each other as V.I.P’s

Last night, I was reminded that we come together and live out our calling to be followers of Jesus when we care for each other and tend to each others needs. We need to treat each other as Jesus treated. We need to realize that everyone matters.  Everyone.

 

***Note ***

We are in Day 39 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The 40 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

40 Days of Reading
Day 1 – Ash Wednesday
Mark 1-4

Thursday Day 2 – Mark 5-8

Friday Day 3 Mark 9-12

Saturday Day 4 Mark 13-16

Sunday

 Monday Day 5 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Tuesday Day 6 Galatians

Wednesday  Day 7  Philippians & Colossians

Thursday Day 8 Philemon & Ephesians

Friday Day 9 Matthew 1-7

Saturday Day 10 Matthew 8-12

Sunday

Monday Day 11 Matthew 13-18

Tuesday Day 12 Matthew 19-24

Day 13 Wednesday Matthew 25-28

Thursday Day 14 1 Corinthians 1-9

Friday Day 15 1 Corinthians 10-16

Saturday Day 16 2 Corinthians 1-13

Sunday

Monday Day 17 Romans 1-8

Tuesday Day 18 Romans 9-16

Wednesday Day 19 Luke 1-3

Thursday Day 20 Luke 4-7

Friday Day 21 Luke 8-11

Saturday Day 22 Luke 12-16

Sunday

Monday Day 23 Luke 17-21

Tuesday Day 24 Luke 22-24

Wednesday Day 25 Acts 1-6

Thursday Day 26 Acts 7-10

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Wednesday Day 31 Hebrews 1-10

Thursday Day 32 Hebrews 11-13 & James

Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Day 34 Revelation 12-22

Sunday

Monday Day 35  1 & 2 & 3 John & Jude

Tuesday Day 36 1 & 2 Peter

Wednesday Day 37 John 1-5

Thursday Day 38 John 6-10

Today Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

It is so loud

loud

Today’s Reading John 6-11

Russia, Syria, and North Korea. Trump, Ryan, and Clinton.  Gorsuch and the Supreme Court. The noise all around us is overwhelming. It is so hard to process all that we see and hear. We have been inundated with news, “fake news”, and more news. It just seemingly never ends.

It has been going on for a while, but it seems to have intensified over the last several years. We find ourselves in a place where we need to reset ourselves and our lives but there is no way it seems. Yet, here we are in the midst of Holy Week, and something is happening. Can you feel it?

Today’s reading included one of my favorite pieces of scripture and that is Jesus, the good Shepherd. This passage is a reminder to me that competing, loud voices are nothing new in this world. It has been happening forever. Yet, as we move though Holy Week we have a chance to get right again. It is possible. We simply need to listen for our shepherd’s voice.

Jesus tells us quite clearly that rushing through life and allowing the voices to overwhelm us is not fruitful. We need to find a way to be still and listen for the voice of Jesus. We will hear it tonight as we celebrate Maundy Thursday. We will hear the voice of our savior as  he laughs with his friends around the table. We will also hear his voice as he warns his friends what is to come and the comfort of his voice as he shares in the meal.

We will hear his voice on Good Friday as he is condemned to death by Pilate. We will hear his moans of pain as he is beaten. We will hear his last words from the cross and then silence. The silence will be overwhelming on Saturday. It is a silence filled with pain, doubt, AND overwhelming hope because we know Sunday is coming!

I don’t want to give away too much of the story. maybe you haven’t heard it all before. Keep listening to the voice of your shepherd.  In that voice you will find peace and home.

 

***Note ***

We are in Day 38 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The 40 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

40 Days of Reading
Day 1 – Ash Wednesday
Mark 1-4

Thursday Day 2 – Mark 5-8

Friday Day 3 Mark 9-12

Saturday Day 4 Mark 13-16

Sunday

 Monday Day 5 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Tuesday Day 6 Galatians

Wednesday  Day 7  Philippians & Colossians

Thursday Day 8 Philemon & Ephesians

Friday Day 9 Matthew 1-7

Saturday Day 10 Matthew 8-12

Sunday

Monday Day 11 Matthew 13-18

Tuesday Day 12 Matthew 19-24

Day 13 Wednesday Matthew 25-28

Thursday Day 14 1 Corinthians 1-9

Friday Day 15 1 Corinthians 10-16

Saturday Day 16 2 Corinthians 1-13

Sunday

Monday Day 17 Romans 1-8

Tuesday Day 18 Romans 9-16

Wednesday Day 19 Luke 1-3

Thursday Day 20 Luke 4-7

Friday Day 21 Luke 8-11

Saturday Day 22 Luke 12-16

Sunday

Monday Day 23 Luke 17-21

Tuesday Day 24 Luke 22-24

Wednesday Day 25 Acts 1-6

Thursday Day 26 Acts 7-10

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Wednesday Day 31 Hebrews 1-10

Thursday Day 32 Hebrews 11-13 & James

Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Day 34 Revelation 12-22

Sunday

Monday Day 35  1 & 2 & 3 John & Jude

Tuesday Day 36 1 & 2 Peter

Wednesday Day 37 John 1-5

Today Thursday Day 38 John 6-10

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

What?

want.jpeg

Today’s Reading John 1-5

On top of this being Holy Week, the end of this week is also my wedding anniversary. We will be married 23 years this Saturday. I remember the day so well and all the joy that it has brought. I also remember repeating after the pastor the vows. Those vows have in many ways shaped our lives together.  We vowed to be faithful and to love each other through sickness and health. Now, my wife has had to do most of the loving through me being sick and injured. I have the good fortune of having a healthy and not clumsy wife. So I got the best end of that deal.

Yet, those vows we took were just words unless we did something about them. Sure we said we wanted to be married and we had a beautiful ceremony with family and friends but that is not all there is to the married life. Yes there is love, fun, and excitement but there is stress, worry, and fear some days as well. At some point our desire to be married had to be actions. Those actions happen each and every day.

I was thinking about that as I finished off the reading this morning. In the reading, in Chapter 5, we are introduced to a lame man at the pool of Bethesda. He was lying there waiting to enter the pool and hoping to be made well. Jesus encounters him and asks, “Do you want to me made well?”

The man answers yes.

Of course, he wants to be made well. Of course, I want to get married. Of course, you want to be a follower of Jesus. Of course, I want to have a better prayer life. We all want good things in our life. We all want to be better. We all want to be closer to God.

Jesus response to the man was, ““Stand up, take your mat and walk.” The man had to respond to the gift that Jesus was giving him. I have to live out my vows each day. You have to be obedient to God. I have to spend more time in prayer. We have a responsibility. What are we going to do with the blessings that Jesus is providing us.

What do you want to do?

Happy Anniversary honey!

***Note ***

We are in Day 37 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The 40 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

40 Days of Reading
Day 1 – Ash Wednesday
Mark 1-4

Thursday Day 2 – Mark 5-8

Friday Day 3 Mark 9-12

Saturday Day 4 Mark 13-16

Sunday

 Monday Day 5 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Tuesday Day 6 Galatians

Wednesday  Day 7  Philippians & Colossians

Thursday Day 8 Philemon & Ephesians

Friday Day 9 Matthew 1-7

Saturday Day 10 Matthew 8-12

Sunday

Monday Day 11 Matthew 13-18

Tuesday Day 12 Matthew 19-24

Day 13 Wednesday Matthew 25-28

Thursday Day 14 1 Corinthians 1-9

Friday Day 15 1 Corinthians 10-16

Saturday Day 16 2 Corinthians 1-13

Sunday

Monday Day 17 Romans 1-8

Tuesday Day 18 Romans 9-16

Wednesday Day 19 Luke 1-3

Thursday Day 20 Luke 4-7

Friday Day 21 Luke 8-11

Saturday Day 22 Luke 12-16

Sunday

Monday Day 23 Luke 17-21

Tuesday Day 24 Luke 22-24

Wednesday Day 25 Acts 1-6

Thursday Day 26 Acts 7-10

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Wednesday Day 31 Hebrews 1-10

Thursday Day 32 Hebrews 11-13 & James

Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Day 34 Revelation 12-22

Sunday

Monday Day 35  1 & 2 & 3 John & Jude

Tuesday Day 36 1 & 2 Peter

Today Wednesday Day 37 John 1-5

Thursday Day 38 John 6-10

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

Not like that

nothow

Today’s Reading 1 Peter 1-5, 2 Peter 1-3

There is a cute insurance commercial of three senior citizens sitting in someone’s house. The one woman has put pictures all over her living room wall instead of mailing the pictures so everyone can see them. Her belief is that her wall in her house works like Facebook. One of the other woman then uses the tagline, “that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works.”

I believe that we often get confused just like the woman in the commercial with how come things work. For instance, I don’t understand how electricity works or how a combustion engine operates. I feel like we often have the same trouble when we think of waiting in the biblical sense.

In today’s reading, Peter talks about waiting on a couple of occasions. In particular in 2 Peter 3

11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening[d]the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?

Waiting. There it is but what does it mean? Do I just sit around knowing that the Lord is coming? Do I sit around in my house and look at all those who don’t get it and don’t live the right way?

I think we often see the waiting but miss the hastening part of this verse. We need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord and live lives that are holy ones. How we live is vital to the waiting and hastening. We need to live lives that bring glory to God. We need to show the world that Jesus Christ makes a huge difference to us. We aren’t the same anymore. The Holy Spirit has changed us forever. Each day we need to go into the world and be an example of what love really looks like. There is no hiding away when you are a follower of the One. No way. Not ever. It is not who we are.

So wait for the Lord as you go into the world bringing peace and love and mercy with you. Be the light of Jesus in someone’s life…this is how we wait.

***Note ***

We are in Day 36 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The 40 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

40 Days of Reading
Day 1 – Ash Wednesday
Mark 1-4

Thursday Day 2 – Mark 5-8

Friday Day 3 Mark 9-12

Saturday Day 4 Mark 13-16

Sunday

 Monday Day 5 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Tuesday Day 6 Galatians

Wednesday  Day 7  Philippians & Colossians

Thursday Day 8 Philemon & Ephesians

Friday Day 9 Matthew 1-7

Saturday Day 10 Matthew 8-12

Sunday

Monday Day 11 Matthew 13-18

Tuesday Day 12 Matthew 19-24

Day 13 Wednesday Matthew 25-28

Thursday Day 14 1 Corinthians 1-9

Friday Day 15 1 Corinthians 10-16

Saturday Day 16 2 Corinthians 1-13

Sunday

Monday Day 17 Romans 1-8

Tuesday Day 18 Romans 9-16

Wednesday Day 19 Luke 1-3

Thursday Day 20 Luke 4-7

Friday Day 21 Luke 8-11

Saturday Day 22 Luke 12-16

Sunday

Monday Day 23 Luke 17-21

Tuesday Day 24 Luke 22-24

Wednesday Day 25 Acts 1-6

Thursday Day 26 Acts 7-10

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Wednesday Day 31 Hebrews 1-10

Thursday Day 32 Hebrews 11-13 & James

Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Day 34 Revelation 12-22

Sunday

Monday Day 35  1 & 2 & 3 John & Jude

Today Tuesday Day 36 1 & 2 Peter

Wednesday Day 37 John 1-5

Thursday Day 38 John 6-10

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

It’s here

holyweek.jpeg

Today’s Reading 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude

We have made it to Holy Week. We started a 40 day reading journey on Ash Wednesday. The goal was to read through the New Testament. It seemed very ambitious and it was. Yet, we have now gotten to Holy Week and we are wrapping up the last few days of reading and it feels good.

Holy Week has seemed to fly by sine I have been a pastor. It is a series of worship services that are all meaningful and powerful and I often get to “Easter Monday” and wonder where the time went. I want this year to be different. I want to really take each day and take time to be present with God and remember what it all means.

It seems as if there is no better way to prepare for just that on the Monday of Easter week than the readings for today, especially 1 particular verse.

1 John 3:16:

 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 

This is in fact what Holy Week is all about. The love of Jesus for us. It is that love that enabled him to lay down his life for people who mocked, scorned, and reviled him. It is this love that sets the stage for this week. Love like that changes and changed the world.

I have often focused on the first part of that verse and that is especially so during Holy Week but today the second part really struck me; and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 

This is a bold statement and a heavy one to wrestle with. Lay down my life for you? Sometimes, I don’t even want to be in the same room with you and yet there it is. Holy Week is our time to remember that Jesus did what we could never do on our own; make us right with God. For me, this means that love in which Jesus shows and demonstrates for us I need to show to others every day. I did to be intentional and consistent. I don’t get to pick and choose when and to whom I show that love.

My prayer today is that I can find a way each day to show that radical love to someone. The love that changed everything.

***Note ***

We are in Day 35 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The 40 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

40 Days of Reading
Day 1 – Ash Wednesday
Mark 1-4

Thursday Day 2 – Mark 5-8

Friday Day 3 Mark 9-12

Saturday Day 4 Mark 13-16

Sunday

 Monday Day 5 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Tuesday Day 6 Galatians

Wednesday  Day 7  Philippians & Colossians

Thursday Day 8 Philemon & Ephesians

Friday Day 9 Matthew 1-7

Saturday Day 10 Matthew 8-12

Sunday

Monday Day 11 Matthew 13-18

Tuesday Day 12 Matthew 19-24

Day 13 Wednesday Matthew 25-28

Thursday Day 14 1 Corinthians 1-9

Friday Day 15 1 Corinthians 10-16

Saturday Day 16 2 Corinthians 1-13

Sunday

Monday Day 17 Romans 1-8

Tuesday Day 18 Romans 9-16

Wednesday Day 19 Luke 1-3

Thursday Day 20 Luke 4-7

Friday Day 21 Luke 8-11

Saturday Day 22 Luke 12-16

Sunday

Monday Day 23 Luke 17-21

Tuesday Day 24 Luke 22-24

Wednesday Day 25 Acts 1-6

Thursday Day 26 Acts 7-10

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Wednesday Day 31 Hebrews 1-10

Thursday Day 32 Hebrews 11-13 & James

Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Day 34 Revelation 12-22

Sunday

Today Monday Day 35  1 & 2 & 3 John & Jude

Tuesday Day 36 1 & 2 Peter

Wednesday Day 37 John 1-5

Thursday Day 38 John 6-10

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21