Monday, July 22, 2019

Peace and Joy




Peace and Joy
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5)

I admit, I raised my eyebrows a little bit this morning as I read the introductory title to this first paragraph of Romans chapter five. Peace and Joy. 

It’s not an unexpected title for a selection of Scripture, but the paragraph that follows this intro contains some hard-hitting sentences: "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings …" (vs. 2-3)

Hmmm.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Being a Jonah



Most of us dream of being a hero. If calamity was imminent and we had the means to stop it, we hope we would be the one to step forward, shake the mothballs off our cape and save the world. Or perhaps on a more believable scale, stand in the gap when needed and do the small but heroic deed.

We want to be the King David of the faith (of course before the incident with Bathsheba), or the Paul or Peter of the New Testament (again, during their good times).

But what if we are actually more like Jonah?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Raising the Dead


“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8—9

Are you familiar with the meme that showed up in late December of a sledgehammer violently smashing the year “2018?” For many it was not a good year. Out with the old, and the sooner the better. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Gift of the Spirit


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:23—24)

I became a Christian believer at the age of four years old. Which means I have experienced forty (plus) years of God’s Spirit working in my life—shaping, transforming, smoothing out my rough edges, and tending my soul-soil to produce his fruit.

You would think by now I would be in pretty nice spiritual shape.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Being the Church


Yesterday morning, my Sunday School class was discussing this question: How do we be a church family and love each other? 

I've been thinking about it since, and believe the first response is introspective.

1. Ask yourself: Am I reaching out to others? Do I speak to those who are hurting, or do I try to avoid them because I don't know what to say, or wonder if they need their space, or … whatever.

So, maybe the first step is simply to reach out. Despite what we feel is our own ineptitude, we just need to reach out. Let the other person know that they are seen, loved, thought about and prayed for.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Jump



Sometimes in my relationship with God, I have felt like an outside observer to my own life, watching God move and work in ways that I can only describe as “all Him.”

I’ve been astonished, time and time again, at how God can use a somewhat socially-awkward misfit and textbook introvert in His plans. I have been a guest speaker … more than once. To those who know me well, this should raise a huge, “WHAT?” To which I would answer, “I KNOW!” Who would believe it? Certainly not me. Not about me. But when I consider God, His incredible power, His joy in using the people He loves in unbelievable ways, and honestly His sense of humor, then it is not surprising at all.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Yoke


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

As I was reading this passage in Matthew, I was struck by the incredible contrast between the first and second sentences. In the first, Jesus is offering an invitation. He invites all who are weary, all who are tired of the evil in the world, jaded by the lack of empathy, shattered by the mass killings of children by children, overburdened, dissatisfied—done. To these people, Jesus issues a summons and a promise: “Come to me … and I will give you rest.”