Breaking Free

freedom

Today’s Reading Acts 11-16

There is a theme in the Book of Acts that I was not aware of until reading through it over the last few days. There are several scenes in the 1st 16 chapters of the book in which the disciples are in prison. They are there on trumped-up charges but they are there. In each case they are set free in some way by the power of God.

Freedom.

I guess it should have been obvious but I never rally had seen it that theme before until now. I have always believed that when you read the scriptures that God reveals things. This is why we can have a bible study or a sermon on the same piece of scripture in different seasons in our life and it will be completely different. The scripture hasn’t changed but we have and God is doing something new.

Freedom.

I guess this theme is something that God wants me to wrestle with today. I am a white adult male in the United States that reality means that freedom is something I should be accustomed to. So why Freedom? Why now? What has a hold on me?

Freedom.

Then I stop…and I pray. It is clear, I have been tied up with sickness over the last two months. I am filled with worry as we transition from one home to another over the next 90 days. I am wrapped up in stress as I transition appointments. I need freedom.

Freedom isn’t the end of these situations but it is an understanding that through it all I have God. the same Spirit that was present to the disciples in the prisons is present for me now. Freedom for me is knowing that I do not walk alone and I never have.

Freedom.

It is also a realization that my issues are minor. There are so many that do not have the same freedom that I do. Maybe it is because of their gender or economic status. Perhaps it is because of their race or religion. It might be their sexuality. It may be the country they live in. Freedom. God’s Spirit is present for them as well. God can break any chains and perhaps I need to use my freedom to help others find theirs as well. So we pray.

Freedom.

 

**Note***

We are in Day 27 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The first 30 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

First 30 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

Today Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

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Playing Favorites

favorites

Today’s Reading Acts 7-10

I remember what its like being the oldest brother. You go through stretches where you feel as if your brother or sister is the favorite child. It is a silly thing but it is just the reality for a child who has at least one sibling. I am sure my brother or sister thought I was the favorite at some point as well, which would make sense!

If you become a parent you start to realize how silly the notion is truly. You may have more things in common with one child but they are your kids! You love them and want the best for them. There is no place for favorites when you are a parent. Your job is to love.

Peter is wrestling this idea of “favorite son” in the scripture from today. In his encounter with the gentile Cornelius, he is made aware of something that shakes him. Peter, after all, is a Jew. Peter also was a disciple of Jesus. In many ways, he felt like the favorite son. God opened his eyes in a dream and then after his encounter with Cornelius he sees things in a new way.

He says:  “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

This is a powerful statement from Peter that has repercussions for us as well. If God has no partiality but instead simply loves his children then we need to strive to do the same. I am often reminded of God’s conversation with Abraham. God said Abraham’s people would be blessed and would be a blessing to the world. We often look at that conversation and just read the we are going to be a blessing part and forget the “why”. The why is important. We are blessed to be a blessing.

God’s heart is for all. God desires all to come to know God. God’s heart is simply not that I am happy and settled and comfortable. In fact, I am pretty convinced after recent events, God is not too concerned with my comfort.

Let’s do what Peter says is vital, that which is acceptable to the Lord. Let us show all people and teach people what that is and why we do it.

No favorites.

 

**Note***

We are in Day 26 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The first 30 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

First 30 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

Today Thursday Day 26 Acts 7-10

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Even a Super Genius

help-me (1)

Today’s Reading Acts 1-6

I, like many other people in my generation, grew up watching the Looney Tunes. While bugs Bunny will forever be my favorite, I grew to have an affinity for Roadrunner cartoons as well. It was very amusing watching the roadrunner have a battle of wits with a coyote. Crazy idea after crazy idea never seemed to work with the coyote.

This wasn’t just any coyote we were to learn in time. The coyote in question was Wile E. Coyote, super genius. He told us this on several occasions. Yet, this super genius time and time again had his carefully laid out plans thwarted by the speed and wits of the roadrunner. No package from Acme could help him it seemed. He was over his head.

I have been there and I am sure you have as well. Not chasing a roadrunner but in over our heads. Perhaps you have been in a situation where you took on a role and it soon became too much. There was more needed than you were led to be or perhaps the role simply changed because of a situation.

In the sixth chapter of Acts, we see the same thing happening. there was a growing need among the Greeks in the church that their widows were not getting cared for daily. This was a serious concern and was treated as such by the disciples. They were in the midst of bringing more people into the church daily and this was the type of thing that could stop this forever.

What they realized was that they could not be the ones to care for the widows. They needed more help. It was not possible for them to be able to do everything that needed done and the ministry that they were called to was a ministry for all believers. The ministry continued and people got fed and cared for daily.

The church is notorious for burning people out. IT is what we do too often. New folks come in and they get fired up and we burden them with too much stuff. Faithful people who have been around for a long time are reliable so we do the same to them. We need to learn to engage others and ask for help often.

Wile E. Coyote never learned this lesson, don’t be Wile E. Coyote!

 

**Note***

We are in Day 25 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The first 30 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

First 30 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

Today 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 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Something is wrong here

great

Today’s Reading Luke 22-24

I am not sure when it happened. In some ways it seems like it has been going on forever and in other ways it seems like just yesterday it started. What am I referring to? This obsession with power and greatness. We have a president now who made it a rallying cry for people and apparently many responded to it.

We also see evidence of it in our corporate world as profit and dividend are king and queen. We see it in military budgets that have gone out of control in our own country. We are witnesses to it everywhere. We even see it in churches where “size matters” in new ways all the time; Attendance, budgets, buildings, etc.

What has happened? What is this fascination with power and greatness? Do I need to make you feel inferior so that I feel better? It all seems so confusing to me. However, I guess there is some solace to be found. It is not a new conversation.

Jesus in a section of today’s reading is responding to a dispute that the disciples were having about greatness . It is a fascinating look at the mindset of some of Jesus’ closest companions. They couldn’t help themselves. They wanted to know who was the best and who had the most influence. They couldn’t see past their own egos.

Jesus reminded them that they were to be like he was and that was a servant. It isn’t about fancy titles or any perks for the job. It is about caring for those that we are called to help. It is about being light in a dark world. It is about bring comfort where comfort is difficult to find.

Real greatness isn’t found in a paycheck. It has nothing to do with a flag. It isn’t because of a hat you where. Greatness isn’t determined by where you go to school or what church you go to.  What makes a country great is the people. What makes greatness is the willingness of people to respond to a call, the call to serve.

Greatness is not found in a paycheck or a flag. It is not found in fancy cars or mansions. Greatness is found wherever love, grace, and compassion are evident and hate, indecency, and cruelty are not allowed to take hold.

Let’s go be great today.

***Note***

We are in Day 24 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The first 30 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

First 30 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

Today 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 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

It’s all you need

baking.jpg

Today’s Reading Luke 17-21

(Thanks to Ruth for the inspiration today.)

I like to cook. I enjoy having a basic recipe and tweaking it. I also love just looking around the fridge and pantry and coming up with some combination. It challenges me and it inspires me. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you envision but other times it far exceeds expectation.

Now, I do not like baking at all. It is too measured and too precise. Misreading the recipe can cause a disaster and that is a lot of pressure. I am sure once you are good at baking there is a lot of experimentation that can go on but for me I will stick with cooking.

Early in the reading today, we read part of a conversation with Jesus and the disciples. He is asked a question about faith and says:

But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it. (The Message)

This response was pointed out to me this morning by Ruth and it caught my eye. This type of conversation is one that I have had with people before. Occasionally, I will hear something like, “If o only had more faith I would…” I understand that thinking as I often struggle with that type of thinking as well.

My default position is to think of faith as I do about baking. I often I need a certain amount and if I do not measure up than I will ruin the recipe. Jesus is challenging that view-point with his disciples and with me.

What if?

What if I was able to look at faith as Jesus described? What if I understood that I have faith and that is what God wants? This faith I have can allow me to do incredible things with the power of the Holy Spirit.

What could be accomplished if we just understood that simple fact? We could would change the world!

Faith- It is what we need. It’s enough.

 

***Note***

We are in Day 22 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The first 30 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

First 30 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

Today 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 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Too Late is a thing

conceptual image of an alarm clock showing that you are too late

Today’s Reading

Luke 12-16

I know my fair share of teachers and professors. They share many of the stores no matter where and what level they teach. One of the things that they all share is the age-old story of “can I do extra credit”. It seems that students in all times and in all places share this knack for waiting until the last second to care about their grade.

Typically it happens towards the end of the semester or the marking period. the student realizes that they have a problem. Somehow and someway they have allowed a lot of time to pass and the reality of a final grade is looking. they go to the teacher and plead their case. They profess a change of attitude and swear this never happens to them and many of them can do it with a straight face. They ask if it is possible just this one time to make up some work or do something else to elevate their grade.

It is possible that the teacher may let this happen. However, sometimes the student is told no. They are told there is no possibility of extra credit and it is too late to do anything about the grade. They are stuck being evaluated on the work that they have done.

This is similar to the story we read at the end of chapter 16 in the gospel of Luke, the story of Lazarus and the rich man . This story is a rich man who has died and is trying to negotiate with Father Abraham. He is trying to justify his action when he was alive and trying to get some “extra credit” for good intentions. It doesn’t work, Father Abraham does not take extra credit. It is too late.

This is the reality of life, eventually it does become too late. I believe that we worship a good of multiple chances. We have the ability to turn back many times over. this is what forgiveness looks like and this is what love acts like. However, those chances end when we die. It is too late at that point. There is no do-overs. We will not get another day to make everything right.

Let’s make the most of now. This moment we have no is sacred. It is holy. Live like it matters.

***Note***

We are in Day 22 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The first 30 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

First 30 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

Today 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 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Just missed

A1.jpg

Today’s Reading Luke 8-11

I went into the Army never having fired a weapon of any kind. Well that is not quite accurate. I once shot a rifle in the vast back yard of a high school classmate. I was petrified by the sound and the power. Other than that experience my only other experience was with a water gun.

In Basic Training, it was a frightening to me as the time for learning how to shoot a rifle drew near. One morning the drill instructor stood up and said that those of us who had never shot a weapon before would be experts by the time he was done teaching us. He told us we had no bad habits to unlearn.

I had a little boost of confidence after that talk until I went to the shooting range for the first time. I was told to go take my magazine and go over to the ammunition station and load my magazine. I felt the fear once again as I tried to load the weapon and not blow myself up.

I still remember the feeling as I was on the ground, in position, getting ready to fire my weapon for the first time. I squeezed the trigger and…I missed. I squeezed the trigger again…another miss. A pattern developed quite quickly…shooting and missing. Eventually I would learn enough to be a decent marksman but I was never the expert that my drill sergeant had promised. i would simply miss the target too much.

In many ways that hasn’t changed over the years. I know the target that I am supposed to be shooting at daily. It is the target that Jesus reminds the religious folks of in today’s reading. In a portion of that reading, Jesus says:

But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Justice and Love. Each day that should be the target but too often I miss it. I focus in on other things and let those things become priorities. I miss the target time and time again. I need to learn to aim better. Learning to aim for justice and love is about learning to see people as Jesus does. It is about loving folks even when they tick you off. It is about ensuring all God’s people are cared for. This is the target we need to aim for each day.

How is your aim?

***Note***

We are in Day 21 of a 40 day read through the New Testament challenge today. The first 30 days of readings are listed below.

***End Note ***

First 30 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

Today 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 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus