Drink up

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Today’s Reading Revelation 12-22

I have been told for many years by doctors and my wife that I need to drink more water. I have an ongoing issues with kidney stones and one of the solutions is to up my intake of water. Kidney stones are the most painful thing that I have ever dealt with in my life. I have been dealing with them for over 25 years on and off. Yet, the water suggestion never kicked in completely.

I would do it for a while but then revert to my usual of coffee, iced tea, and soda. After all, the logic goes, these things are made with water as well so it has to count. It really doesn’t and I know that. At the beginning of this year I had my most recent bout of kidney stones and something stuck this time. I start my day with water (coffee too, I am not a heathen) and end my day with water. I am not sure that is helping but I am doing it because I believe it will and I know that it is healthier.

I was finishing up the reading today as I was drinking my water and there I found these words:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

These words are the last command of God to his people in the bible. People for so long that have known what the right thing to do was and did the opposite. We can be like that, I know I am like that. God’s offer to drink when we are thirsty is an invitation to us all forever. We are thirsty but how will we quench our thirst. Will we drink from the living water that God provides for us or will we simply turn to the world for momentary cessation of our thirst?

God will provide all that we need and all we need do is say yes. Come and drink!

***Note ***

We are in Day 34 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

Today Saturday 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

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

Sunday EASTER

When will it happen

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Today’s Reading Revelation 1-11

There are those moments in our life that tend to totally upend the status quo. These are events or situation that we experience that bring such  a level of energy or angst that we end up responding to them. These become defining moments in our life. It is these moments that we look back to and say, “That was it!”

After reading through today’s reading though, I can’t help but wonder how many of the moments that we miss along the way. Reflecting about events and situations in the past, i can’t help but speculate upon when it was probably time to wake up ad I missed it completely. Am I alone?

Heading to bed last night, we read about an air attack upon Syria. Every day, we are reminded about the problem in North Korea and our own country’s political divide. It is a mess. We read about struggles in the church and experience struggles at home. We are a people divided and in need of a shake up.

Reading the end of chapter 9 this morning, I came across this:

The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.

At first, my reaction was wondering why didn’t the people wake up and change. However, I have seen with my own eyes how people respond to the news of the day. I have responded in the same way. We ignore it and keep doing whatever it is we are invested in. We continue to worship these idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood and wonder why things aren’t getting any better.

Wake up!

It is time to wake up!

Change starts here and it starts now.

 Focus on God. Pray for guidance. Love your neighbor. Love god with everything you got.
It is time to go back to the beginning. It is time. Wake up!

 

***Note ***

We are in Day 33 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

Today Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Saturday 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

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

Sunday EASTER

A Spark is all

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Today’s Reading Hebrews 11-13, Book of James

I remember one morning, I was in West Deptford visiting my grandparents. I was hanging out with some kids that I knew and we had wandered over to the baseball fields to play a little baseball.  Before we had gotten started, another group of kids wandered just outside the field. There was some conversation and some insults being thrown back and forth between the two groups.

I saw one of the kids pick something up and throw it towards a group of us that were surrounding home plate. He was beyond the fence in center field when he threw it. Somehow or another I was the “lucky one” that got hit by it. It struck me on the top of my head and I went down. I am not sure if I was unconscious for a moment or not. I got helped up and as I looked back down, I saw a giant nut and bolt. This fairly large piece of metal had brought a lot of pain. But I have been hurt worse.

Metal, wood, and stones we know that they can cause pain. Yet, as I was reading the scripture selection for this morning, I was reminded of something that causes even more pain that we often dismiss. In James 3, we are warned about the destructive power of the tongue. It is such a little thing but it can cause such great pain.

We try to dismiss the significance of it with cute little nurse rhymes that say things like “but names can never  hurt me”, but we know it is not true. words hurt and can cause real damage. Today’s reading is an important reminder that we need to be prayerful and mindful when we are talking to other people.

I have been hurt by the words of other people but I am more concerned with the reality that I know t have done the same to others. We sing a song in church occasionally with the lyrics, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going”.  This song is about God’s love but it is just as true with gossip. It just as true with nastiness.

So today, let us choose to ignite sparks of God’s love and not sparks of discord and pain.

***Note ***

We are in Day 32 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

Today Thursday Day 32 Hebrews 11-13 & James

Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Saturday 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

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

Sunday EASTER

Pick a Team

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Today’s Reading Hebrews 1-10

When I was younger, I went through an identity crisis. I had a friend across the street who was a Dallas Cowboys fan. I was raised better than that and had many people in my life who always showed me right from wrong in sports fandom. Yet, one season, I slipped over to the dark side and tried to be a Cowboys fan. It was a sad point in my life and I try not to think about those days too much.

It wasn’t long until I was a Eagles fan once again like I have been for virtually all of my five decades on this earth. I chose a team that season and I didn’t like how it felt. It wasn’t who I really was and I quickly returned “home”.

I was thinking of my lost season as I was reading through the first 10 chapters of the book of Hebrews this morning. In particular as I closed out chapter 10:

35 Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet “in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one will live by faith.  My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.”c 3But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

These words are words of encouragement. It reminds us of what team we are on. We aren’t the type of people who fall away when things get tough. We are the type of people who trust in God. We have seen evidence of God’s love in our lives and we hold on to that.

Pick the right team! Choose Jesus and then be more than a casual fan. Go all in!

***Note ***

We are in Day 31 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

Today Wednesday Day 31 Hebrews 1-10

Thursday Day 32 Hebrews 11-13 & James

Friday Day 33 Revelation 1-11

Saturday 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

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

Sunday EASTER

Seeing Differently

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Today Reading 1 Timothy,  2 Timothy, Titus

Think back to the old neighborhood where you grew up. Take a moment and think of all the characters that lived in the area. You remember them all don’t you? The kids you used to hang out with and the older ones that perhaps used to bully you and your friends. you remember the next door neighbor that wouldn’t let you into her yard to get the kick ball that your buddy kicked over the fence. Every moment and every person you remember them.

Now think of yourself in that same time frame. Remember the type of kid that you were when you were growing up in that neighborhood. Do you remember causing havoc with your friends? Do you remember all the trouble that you got in while you were pushing the boundaries?  do you remember all the fun you used to have playing games with your friends or goofing off together at school?

Are you that same person now? Are those people in the neighborhood the same? Yet, when you think of them or yourself together those memories still rush back. At least they do for me, yet I know that I am not that person anymore. I know my buddies from the neighborhood are not the same people anymore either. Yet that is still how I see them. I see them as the carefree kids that most of us were. Enjoying life no matter what else was going on.

I was thinking of the old times as I was finishing up the letter to Titus this morning,. In the final chapter, Paul sends a word of reminder. Paul wants the people to remember how they used to be as well in the old neighborhood. However, he doesn’t want to look back so fondly. He wants people to remember the bad things about themselves. The ways in which they were off course. He doesn’t want them to be reminded of those things though to make them feel bad.

Paul wants the people to be reminded of the fact that despite the mess they were in that God had still done a great work in them. It wasn’t because they were os special or the behavior was perfect. It was in spite of all the things going wrong. God loved them and the Spirit changed them.

It is a reminder to me as I read this of how far I have come because of the grace of God. I am still a work in progress but I am God’s handiwork and so this morning I choose to see that when I look in the mirror. What do you see?

 

We are in Day 30 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

Today 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

Saturday 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

Friday Day 39 John 11-16

Saturday Day 40 John 17-21

Sunday EASTER

Everywhere? Yup

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Today’s Reading Acts 23-28

I haven’t found the place…yet. I have been to Alaska, Israel, and through the Panama Canal and I didn’t find the place there. I have been to Ft. Ord, California and Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and it wasn’t there either. I have been to vacation spots like Aruba and cruise ports like St. Thomas and it wasn’t there either.  Recently, being a pastor has brought me to a few different settings in New Jersey and the place wasn’t at any of those.

I can keep looking, I guess, or I can accept the reality of the situation. The reality? There is nowhere on earth that I can go or God can send me that someone doesn’t need to hear the story. It is that simple. I need to be a storyteller.

I once took a class on storytelling in seminary. It was fascinating as we listened to each other, each with our own style. I learned there are many ways to tell a story that semester. It was encouraging. It was not simply a one size fits all type of reality.  That was a good thing.

I was reminded of the need to be a storyteller as I finished up the Book of Acts this morning. Paul finds himself a prisoner in Rome and even there he can’t wait to find an opportunity to tell folks about Jesus. He doesn’t whine about the unfair nature of his arrest. He doesn’t accuse his persecutors of wrong doing. He doesn’t appeal to the Romans for release. He just uses each situation as a chance to share sho Jesus is and how Jesus has changed him.

What faith! What courage! What a storyteller!

I need to do better. I need to learn to tell that story in new ways and in all places. I need to share that story with my hands, feet, and voice.

I want to be a story teller…everywhere. How about you?

**Note***

We are in Day 29 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

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Today Day 29 Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Cost Analysis

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Today’s Reading Acts 17-22

We have to make decisions every day. Some of those decisions are easy as figuring out what you will wear. Other decisions that deal with things like your money and your time can be more complicated. Yet, we still make these types of decisions daily. It is part of life and there truly is no escaping it.

In chapter 22, Paul is dealing with the results of one of his choices. He is being help by a group of people in Jerusalem because they do not trust him. They want him beaten, imprisoned, or dead. Paul is in a bad spot.

Yet, as we read through the previous chapters we are made aware that Paul chose this journey. He was warned by people on the trip back that this would be his fate. Yet, his belief was that the holy spirit wanted him back in Jerusalem so to Jerusalem he went. Paul’s choice was very dangerous yet he had faith.

Paul decided to go back to Jerusalem because of his love of Jesus. I sometimes struggle to get up a little early to do morning devotions. Paul was face to face with pain and injury because of his faith, sometimes we get annoyed when worship runs “too long”.  Paul’s faith was dangerous to the status quo and often times no one seemingly can see an impact from our faith.

Paul’s story is the story of what a bold faith acts like. Are we ready to have that type of faith? It means pushing comfort to the side at times. It means setting aside our agenda and instead focusing in on God’s agenda.  This is what Paul’s faith looks like.

What does your faith look like?

**Note***

We are in Day 28 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

Friday Day 27 Acts 11-16

Today Saturday Day 28 Acts 17-22

Sunday

Monday Day 29 Acts 23-28

Tuesday Day 30 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus