We did it!

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Today’s Reading Revelation 18:1 – Revelation 22:21

Well we have done it. It seemed like an impossibility on January 1st but here we are. 90 days (really 88) and we have gone from Genesis through Revelation. We have read about Adam, Noah, Moses, and Abraham. We have heard stories about Ruth, Esther, Miriam, and Mary. Along the ways, we have uncovered some things and reimagined some of the old stories.

Today’s reading was a warning and a promise. A warning that choosing to ignore God has consequences. It is also a promise that God is not done with us yet. God is doing a new thing. God is at play. God is creating. I want a part of that new thing. I want to play with God. I want to create with God.

We end the bible in the same place we started it, dwelling with God. There is no better place to be. We may be done reading through the bible THIS time but our journey through the word will continue.

This week we will re-look at some of the Holy Week passages. I invite you to join us this Holy week as we rehear the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Come see the Show!

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####advertisement – If you are in the Area.. Today at 1 pm and again at 7 pm Clayton High School will be performing “Wizard of Oz”. you don’t want to miss it.

Today’s Reading Jude 1– Revelation 17:18

Tonight, if all goes well, we will be going to see a local High School production of the “Wizard of Oz”. The Wizard of Oz is a great story but it is one I remember watching as a little child. Every year when it came on TV, I was excited and afraid. I was excited to see my “friends’ once again. I was afraid because I knew the flying monkeys and the wicked witch were coming.

I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen, I would smile as we met the munchkins yet again and sing the songs. Yet, I knew that this joy was going to end soon because of that blasted witch and her flying monkeys. No matter what I kept watching. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.

Why would I put myself through that as a child? Why would I stick through even when things didn’t look so good? It is because I knew the end of the story. I knew, like Dorothy would learn, that there is no place like home! The good guys were going to win. I didn’t want to miss that.

I haven’t read through the Book of Revelation as many times as I have rad other parts of the bible. It is not my “favorite” book, Yet, as I was reading it today all I could think about was the Wizard of Oz. There is a lot of bad things happening in the book. There are things seemingly much worse than flying monkeys and wicked witches. Yet, I still kept reading. Why?

In part, because I am DETERMINED to finish what I started on January 1st (who is with me?). However, the most important reason is that I do know the end of the story and so do you. It is a story of newness and majesty. It is a story of community and relationship. It is a story of love and forgiveness. It is a story of forever. It is the story of us…and God together.

There is in fact no place like home…and that home is with God.

Now that is a happy ending.

Teach them well

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Today’s Reading James 3:13 – 3 John 14

My family is filled with people involved in education. We have former school board members, teachers, school nurses, and administrators. Education has always been very important in our family. It is something to this day that I value immensely. Perhaps it is why at the age of 48, I am still in school.

Yet not all teachers are created equally. Not all educators have been created from the same mold. It is simply a reality. So what makes the difference? Why are some “better” than others? Why are some teachers and educators at a different level? Well, maybe I can answer that with an example.

One of my favorite professors in seminary was Dr. Craig Keener. Craig was one of the most brilliant men that I had ever met but that wasn’t why he was my favorite. Craig was able to explain the most difficult pieces of the New Testament in ways even I could understand, but that wasn’t why he was my favorite professor. Craig was my favorite professor because of his genuine love of us, the world, and of God. Story after story that was shared with us showed Craig to be not just a teacher but a leader and a “doer” of the Word. He was a living example to us because of his compassion and love.

In today’s reading, Peter urges the shepherds to be a good example to not lead out of necessity but out of a real desire and love. Going through the motions is something we all have to wrestle with at times no matter what we do. Peter’s words and Dr. Keener’s example are a constant reminder to me to care for and be there for people.

If people can’t see me living out the words that I say than I am wasting everyone’s time. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young have a great song called Teach the Children Well. The song is a reminder to “feed them on your dreams”. Feed the children and feed each other on the dreams that we have of the a better world. The dreams of god’s will done here like it is in heaven. the dreams of a place where we do all live together and love together and help together.

Teach. Learn. Love. Live. Amen.

Am I a Gossip?

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Today’s Reading Hebrews 1 – James 3:12

     “Did you hear?” 

How many conversations that you have been part of recently have started out with that or a similar question?

     “Can you believe it?”

Have you found yourself saying this to someone recently? Have you had someone say this to you?

Now maybe you are different from me. Perhaps you have not had any conversation recently that has started out with one of these two questions or a question similar. If that is so than good for you. You can go on about your day. What follows is for the rest of us….myself included.

Why do we do it? Why do we allow ourselves to be sucked into negative conversation? These questions are important. These questions need to be addressed. We may think  that gossip is normal or that it isn’t gossip if it is true, however we would be missing the point.

Spending time gossiping is not only a waste of time but it is harmful. It allows us to view people as “less than”. It is a way in which we can demean someone and to feel good about ourselves at the same time. In the scripture today, James thought that it was destructive enough to address. James spoke about the power of the tongue.

The tongue gives us the power to tear down but also to lift up. It is just as easy for us to speak love to people than it is to gossip, so let’s speak love. Let us use our tongues today to pray for each other. Let us use our words to compliment each other. Let us use our words today to instruct each other and encourage each other.

Let us be speakers of love.

Stay away from it

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Today’s Reading 1 Thessalonians 1:1  – Philemon 25

Some people thrive in the chaos. I am not one of them. Some people are fed by turmoil and upheaval in their lives. I am not one of them. The world is made up of many different types of people. I would venture a guess that many of those types reside on your Facebook timeline. Go ahead, take a look, I’ll wait.

Paul’s writings in scripture are filled with warnings to stay away from certain behavior. These behaviors will steal time from you, time that should be directed towards God. Paul’s warnings have been white noise for me recently, until today. Today, as I read I was struck by his call to give someone who cause controversy/trouble a chance but if they continue that behavior to distance yourself from them. Today, this struck home.

How much time is wasted dealing with trouble that is created and perpetuated by a single person and their negativity? How much time is spent dealing with drama that has been created by someone else’s bad choices or attitude? What is the cost for me to spend time in those situations with people like that?

I go to the gym several times a week because I want to do what I can to get fit and stay healthy. If I care about my physical health that much shouldn’t I be just as concerned with my mental and spiritual health? I have to be better. I need to make space.

Paul’s writings to Timothy were in part a reminder to Timothy of who he was and what he was called to do. It was a reminder that God had a plan for Timothy and that he needed to focus on the plan and not be sucked into other people’s stuff. I believe God has a plan for me as well. I need to be faithful to that plan and stay away from the drama.

My prayer this morning is that I can move in that direction. My prayer this morning for you is that if you are dealing with these same issues you can move towards that as well.

That’s why

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Today’s Reading Galatians 3:25 – Colossians 4:18

Every parent has done it. We swear we will never do it. We will be “better” than our parents. We will do things differently. We have good intentions, the best of intentions. Yet, without fail, we do it and it feels good…for a second. Yes, eventually we all tell our kids, “because I told you so”.

I remember hearing my parents tell me that and thinking that is simply not good enough, I need more. I DESERVE more. I want an explanation. It doesn’t make sense, there has to be some hidden reason. I was never satisfied with that answer and swore I would never use it with my children.

We all know how this story ends. Of course, I did use it with my children and probably more than once. How many times can I say sit down in the back of the car and explain why you need to do that? How man times can I offer up the same explanation for picking up the toys before bedtime?  How long oh Lord??????

Now that wasn’t always how I answered my children. I did try to explain the reason behind the “why”. I did try to be an example to them and show them that mom and dad weren’t just saying these things they lived these things. We were polite and caring;. We took the time the be nice to others. We were respectful. We went to church. We lived our lives like a belief in Jesus really matters.

I did these things and hoped and prayed. I prayed that the lessons would connect. I prayed that the “why” would sink in. I pray that my kids will see the power of living fruitful lives, faithful lives, honorable lives, as Paul writes about in today’s readings. I prayed that our example could show our kids that there is another way. The world doesn’t get to decide what is important in your life…you do. The world may gossip, lie, and cheat and live a life that brings praise to immorality but you do not have to.

My parent’s example connected with me. My wife’s example connected with me. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ connected with me. this is what I want for my kids. This is what I want for the world.

So yea…because I said so.

That’s why!

Now would be good

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Today’s Reading 1 Corinthians 15:1 – Galatians 3:25

This weekend, I officiated the funeral of a 23-year-old young man. He was a father of twins. All throughout the funeral my attention was on the twins. They looked so innocent. They seemed to not have a care in the world. All around them, people were crying and devastated but it was not impacting them yet.

In many ways, I think we are often like those children. All around us there is need. All around us there is pain. We walk around like nothing is happening unless it is impacting us directly. When a child is hungry she cries. When he is unhappy he cries. A child only responds when there is a perceived personal urgent need. Are we like that?

Do we only think about the poor when we see a homeless person on the street or see a commercial about starving children? Do we only think of war when we see the new or read about ISIS or the Ukraine? Do we only think of racism when we see things on the news? Do we only think of police officers and other first responders when we see something bad that has happened?

Often times we live our lives in reactionary ways. Something, usually bad, happens and then we respond. In today’s reading, Paul is telling the people and us that the Gospel is urgent. It needs to be lived out. It does not need to wait for something to happen. Something has already happened. Jesus!

Jesus has given us the way. He has shown us the truth. He has provided us life. Because of Jesus, Paul was able to endure all he did to continue to live out the Story. Because of Jesus, we are called to live out that same story.

It is urgent!

It does matter!

Tell the story!