Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas: December 3

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 17: 17-24

Elijah comes and stays with a widow woman and her son. She only has enough food to last the two of them for a short time, yet the Lord performs a miracle, and the food never runs out. Today, her son dies, and she gets mad at Elijah, saying his presence caused this to happen. He takes the boy upstairs prays over him, and he is brought back to life. She says, now I know you are a man of God. That stuck with me. Now I know. The miracle of the food never running out didn’t convince her. The fact that Elijah told her about being fed by ravens didn’t convince her. It wasn’t until something near and dear to her heart was brought back was she was truly convinced. So it is for us as well. It is all well and good for us to watch Billy Graham and see thousands get saved. It is nice to hear testimonies in church about how folk’s lives are changed by God. But, are we convinced? Have we experienced God in our own lives in powerful ways? Have we seen God bring to life our own heart or the heart of someone what we love? It wasn’t until God made a personal imprint on her life that she believed. What about us? Do we believe in God personally because of what He’s done for us, or is God more of the just the guy up in heaven that watches us. It took a change in her life for her to believe. What does it take for you and me to believe?

New Testament Lesson

3 John 1-15

Hospitality is important, but is it something that is so easily forgotten, especially in our busy age. Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but we have to let him in. Jesus sent out the apostles and told them to stay only where they were welcomed, and if they were not, to shake the dust off their feet. He said as you have done the least of these, so have you done unto me. Acts of kindness and hospitality are the very heart of what it means to live a holy life. These simple things might not get you put on the front page of the paper, but they are the heart of the holy Christian life. God doesn’t always ask us to do what we think of as great things, He asks us to be faithful. But in these “small” acts of kindness, we find the great grace of God.

Gospel Lesson

John 4: 46-54

In this text, the father of the sick child took Jesus at His word and he was healed. Right before that, Jesus had said that it would take signs and wonders for people to believe, but this man took Jesus at His word. What a wonderful reminder of what faith looks like. Faith is believing; even without sight. So often, we tell God, just a sign, and we will believe. He has given us His word; He has given us His son. He has given us example after example. When will we take Him at his word? When we will believe simply because He has said? Trust daily in Him and His word. Know that He is faithful and true. Know that the same Jesus that healed this son is the same Jesus that through the power of the Holy Spirit walks with you and me each day. Trust in Him, trust in His word. That is the heart of faith.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What sin does

It takes a wonderful child's toy like Mr. Potato Head and turns it into Darth Tatar!!! Max Lucado said that God hates sin most of all because of what it does to His childern. I guess even His potato like children. Posted by Picasa

Christmas: December 29

Old Testament Lesson

2 Samuel 23: 14-17

In this passage David desires to have some water from the well near Bethlehem. Bethlehem was his home, the land where he grew up. Some of his men hear this wish, and they go and break through the line of the enemy go and get him some of this water. They bring it back and give it to him, and then the text takes a turn that we don’t expect. David doesn’t drink the water. In fact, he pours it out, before the Lord. What does this mean? Why did he do that?

David was a revered leader among his men and his nation. A leader is someone that doesn’t tell folks to respect of follow them; people just know to follow that leader. And leadership has with it responsibilities. A leader must care for their followers. A leader must respect and value their followers. If you treat those beneath you with contempt, they will not follow. David values his men. And, he also wanted that water. But, he valued his men more than he wanted that water. He poured it out to the Lord as an offering to honor what his men had done, but he knew that their lives were more important than his desires. As Christians do we value other people as much as we value our desires? Or are we more concerned with getting what we want, having our needs met, having our desires fulfilled than we are with the needs and the lives of others. Jesus said to be the greatest we must first serve. Are we willing to be a servant? Are we willing to humble ourselves? Are we willing to consider others before we consider ourselves? That is how we find life. Not in getting what we want, but in laying down our lives for God and for each other. Jesus said there is no greater love than this, that you lay down your life for your friends. That is the path to true life; life that comes from God. David laid down his desires for his men. We will do the same?

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 1: 1-8

Revelation is a double edged sword. To those that believe, it is great news, the Lord is coming! Everything will be as it should be! He is making all things new! So, for the Christian, there is much hope within this book of the Bible. But, it is also a book of woe for those that do not believe. In this text, we see these two thoughts. He is coming, and for those that have been washed in the blood, that is a blessing. But it also says that everyone will see him, including those that pierced him, and the world will mourn. So, we see in one text praise and mourning. Praise from those that believe, mourning from those that do not.

There are things that we cannot stop from coming. Our own death and the return of Christ are two them. We can keep from thinking about them, but they are still coming. What thoughts do they bring to mind? Do you long to see your savior? Or are you filled with dread? For the Christian, there is hope in these things. Do we have that hope today? Or are we filled with dread? For the believer, there is hope. For, one day there will be no more sickness, pain, and death. One day, God will restore things to how they should be. One day it will all be right. One day we will be reunited with those that we love. That should make us joyful. The question then becomes do we believe? Do we have faith in him? Are we ready for these things? They are coming; we can’t put them off forever. Are we ready? Are we prepared? We do not know the time or the hour. Will our homecoming be full of tears of joy or sorrow?

Gospel Lesson

John 7: 37-52

Jesus is not always what we make him out to be. He is not always nice. He is divisive. He will cause fights. He will ask us to make tough choices. Verse 43 says the people we divided over Jesus. Like in the Revelation passage, there are two different things held tightly together in the passage. Jesus brings unity and division. There should be unity. He said when I am lifted up I bring all people to me. When Jesus is lifted up, it should draw us to together. We should be unified not only as a local church, but a universal church. All believers, regardless of where they go to church, hold Christ in common. We can have differences over theology, but let us never forget than as John Wesley said, “if you heart has been warmed, then brother give me your hand.”

So, Jesus will bring unity. But in the text, we see him bringing division. Jesus demands that we choose sides. Jesus demands that we show our allegiance. He tells us that we cannot have 2 masters; we will love one and hate the other. Jesus or the world must be our master. We cannot serve both God and the world. We must make a choice. Every day, our lives are filled with choices. Will we serve God? Will we serve the world? We must make a choice. Who will we serve? There will be division over Him. But, at His name, every knee shall one day bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. He demands that choose either Him or the world. Today, whose side are we on?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ordination Questions!!!!

I'm in the process now of answering questions for ordination in the UMC, and boy is it fun. I started the process towards ordination in 1998 and am in my last year (hopefully) of probationary membership. I am sitting here, praying over the questions and thinking about ministry. About the joys and sorrows of it, about the joys and sorrows of the UMC. It seems like just yesterday I was struggling with answering the call to ministry, and now here I am working on these questions.

Christmas: December 28

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 49: 13-23

Tony Dungy has been in the news recently. He is the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and his son recently committed suicide. He is also a very committed Christian. I saw an interview with him yesterday and he stated that his family was doing well, and that God had given them and everyone that believes great promises for times of trial. He said that God is not there just in the good times, but in the bad times as well. It is not very often you get to see such a public figure make such a strong declaration of faith. I thought of that scene this morning when I read this passage. Israel had been through so much pain, much of it because of their sin, but God promised that He will not forget them, He cannot forget them. Like a parent cannot forget their child, neither will God forget His children. In fact, He will raise them up and use them for the good of the world. God will not forget His children, and has something mighty and amazing in store for each of them. Even in the midst of the pain and lose, He is there. We must always cling tightly to His promise to never leave or forsake us, no matter what life may bring.

New Testament Lesson

Colossians 1: 9-20

When we see Jesus as revealed in the bible, we see God. Some folks say that we’ve never seen God. I guess that is true. But, as Billy Graham said, no one has ever seen the wind, but they’ve seen the effects of the wind. So is it with God. We’ve seen effects of God in lives and in the lives of others, and this world. As Samuel Wesley, John Wesley’s dad, said, “The inner witness; that is the evidence of God.” And Paul reminds us today that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. So, when we see Jesus, we see God. And we see Jesus forgiving. We see Jesus calling folks to repentance. We see Jesus calling all that believe to follow him. We see Jesus binding up the wounds of the broken hearted and calling the self righteous to repent. In Jesus we see just how much out God loves us, and see just how far God will go to save us. God’s arm is always reaching out to us, trying to draw us closer. He is the visible image of the invisible God. What a mighty God we serve, what a loving God. May we not forget how great our God is, and if we need a reminded, may we remember how He has been with us in times past and may we look within His Word to see Him.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 18: 1-14

Today we see Jesus give two images of faith. The first is a small child. Unless we become like a child, we will not enter the kingdom of God. What a joy children are, especially with faith. They don’t need to have everything explained. They trust. They have faith. They find joy in everything. Life makes us adults cynical. It makes us hard. It makes us bitter. We must lose this. We must recapture the joy of life, the faith of life, the faith of a child. My daughter trusts in my wife and me for everything. She doesn’t doubt; she knows that we will take care of her. How many of us doubt God for everything and then complain if God doesn’t do it the way we’d like. We have to regain that childlike faith. Wesley said salvation is in the end about restoring what sin has taken from us. Above all, sin has taken out trust and joy in God. Unless we become like a child. . . .

And then Jesus shows how far God will go for us. He would leave the rest of the folk to find you and me. He would live the 99 to find the 1. We should rejoice in that; that our God would seek us out. We have a God that looks for us. We don’t find God, God finds us. He is always reaching, always trying to get us to return, but our hearts are often too hard to retune. We have lost that childlike faith. May we recover (or find) that faith and may we rejoice in a God that leaves the 99 to find the 1.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Jeff Reardon arrested!

Jeff Reardon was once the best closer in the Major League. And now, he was arrested for robbing a jewerly store?!? This is strange and sad. I wonder what Lee Smith is upto now a days?

Another good Hurricane Katrina site

This is blog abou the responce to Hurricane Katrina here in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Voices of Katrina

Many of you may not have seen this, a collection of responces by Mississippi Methodist folk and their responce to Katrina. Take a moment to look and read. One of the voices is from a friend of mine, Rev. Roy Pearson, pastor of West Laurel UMC in Laurel, MS. Let us not forget our friends and sisters and brothers at this time, nor in the year to come.

Will Greg ever come back?

Come on Greg, will you ever blog again?

Christmas: December 27

Old Testament Lesson

Proverbs 8: 22-30

This passage is originally talking about wisdom. That is one of the gifts that Proverbs, as well as the Old Testament praises and desires the most. Wisdom is not knowledge, wisdom is not trivial. Wisdom is about sight; it is about perspective. Wisdom is about seeing and understanding not through our eyes, but through God’s eyes, through the perspective of God. And wisdom comes only through God, only through the Holy Spirit. Sure, experience can teach us things, but how many of us know folks that have went through a lot, but still have learned nothing. How many of us know children that have a way of cutting through the clutter and getting to the heart of the matter. That is wisdom.

Dr. WE Knickerbocker, in a class on Benedictine Spirituality in seminary, taught us to read the Old Testament, through, not just for its original meaning, but to read it looking for Christ. So, in that understanding, the text today is not just talking about wisdom, but about Jesus. He was there in the beginning, He was at the right hand of God during creation, He was the one that that knows all. And He is the one that became a babe, to teach us to love and to show us love; through His words, His actions, His death, and His resurrection. Let us not just seek wisdom today; let us seek our savior.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 5: 1-12

Love is the mark, the mark of a Christian. If we are in Christ, then we will love. That is our command. And this passage reminds us that the commands of God are not burdensome. In fact, they are life giving. God does not give us “busy work” like in school. Everything is for a purpose. Every command is for a reason. We are not to love merely for love’s sake. We are to love, because love changes us, and it changes the one we love. Is there someone you don’t like? I mean, really don’t like? Be nice to them. Do something kind and loving for them. Take time to lean about them. Don’t see them as your enemy, see them as Christ. And you will change. If you will truly allow Jesus to unlock the door of hatred in your heart, you will change. But first, we must want change. We must want life and love; we must want to let go of old (or new) grudges. And this is life. Those that have the Son and His love have life. Those that do not, do not. Do we choose life today? Do we choose to follow today? Or do we choose to stay bound in our sin and hatred today? His commands are not burdensome; in fact they are the way to life.

Gospel Lesson

John 13: 20-35

In the Gospel, we see Judas leave to betray our Lord. What a fitting passage following Christmas, for the cross is never far from the manager. Jesus was not merely one that came to teach us love, but he showed us love in that He laid down His life for ours; He paid a price we could not pay. He talks about his command of love after Judas leaves. Love is not easy. Love is not just an emotion or a feeling. Love is often hard. Love is often a tough choice. Love may cost us. Love may cause us pain. Love is not easy. And if we love only out of feeling, that will pass. Even in marriage, studies have shown the “warm fuzzies” are gone after about a year. Love is a choice to do right, to think of others first, to place others above yourself, to think of their good before your own. Love is not selfish or prideful, that’s what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13. If you love only based on a feeling, it is not love. Love is commitment. Just as Jesus was committed to us above even His own life, in the same way are we to be committed to each other, and to Him.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas to Me!

This is one of the gifts that my beautiful wife gave me for Christmas. Doesn't it just fill your heart with Christmas joy. To be added later, a picture of my daughter (Sarah) in her gift from me, an Ole Miss cheerleading outfit!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Yehaw and Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, talk to you Monday!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Fourth Week in Advent: Friday

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 31:10-14

We see in this passage the rejoicing that the Lord will give to his remnant when they return to Jerusalem. That is God’s will; that is what He most desires. He doesn’t desire to punish us; though He will. He doesn’t desire that we are filled with dream and gloom towards Him. He desires that we rejoice, for He longs to save us. He gave us His son that we might know Him. He gave us His son so that we might be forgiven of our sins. He longs to know us. Fear the Lord, but fear Him with joy, for He longs to give us that joy. He reaches out to us to draw us into salvation. Dancing and Joy that is His will for the remnant, and for those that believe. In the coming days, may the hearts of God’s children be filled with that joy and knowledge of the salvation of our God.

New Testament Lesson

Galatians 3:15-22

Paul continues writing to the Galatians about the Law. They had come to the belief that they salvation comes not the work of Jesus Christ, but in their keeping of the Law. Paul is reminding them that they saved through faith and now he talks about Abraham. God called Abraham and promised to bless him and his offspring. That promise was given before the Law was given. So, the Old Testament Law does not invalidate the promise. God’s promised to Abraham was that through him, all people would be blessed, and that blessing was ultimately Jesus Christ. Abraham was not saved by the Law or by what he did, but through the promise of God. God’s promise of salvation is to those that believe. Now, this belief must show itself in action, but that belief must come from. God longs to save us, God longs to give us His promise, God longs that we might live free. Imagine that, no chains to bind your feet, no cuffs to bind your hands; freedom! Do you live free today in God’s grace? Or are you still bound to sin? Or are you still bound “works salvation” where if you’re just good enough, God will love you? God loves you because He created you. He longs to know you, and gave His son so that we can be forgiven. We can be free, we can be the Child of God. Will you stay bound or will you believe and know that joy that comes from being one of God’s children?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 1:67-80

This is Zechariah's song of praise to God after the birth of his son John. He sings of how God has fulfilled His promise of salvation to His people, His promise from years ago. He has show mercy; He has remembered His covenant with His people. He has freed His people and

rescue[d] us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable[d] us to serve him without fear

Through belief we are saved, and we are saved to something. If we struggle with purpose of life, or just feel hopeless in life in general, how are spending our lives. Are we chasing our own stuff or are we chasing what God has for us. He came to save us to something. We not saved merely for ourselves, but for Him. He came that we could serve the Lord our God without fear. Thing about that, the Lord God of heaven longs to have you in His service. He could use anyone for anything, but He wants to use you and me! How blessed are we! How thankful should we be! The babe born in Bethlehem came not just for forgiveness, not just for love, but came as well so that we could serve the Lord without fear! Are you afraid today? Do you live in an unholy fear of God today? You don’t have to hide your head from God today. He longs to know you and love you. Show your face to Him today, receive His grace and love, and serve Him without fear today.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fourth Week in Advent: Thursday

Old Testament Lesson

2 Samuel 7:18-29

In the previous passage the Lord tells David that instead of David building a house for Him, He will build a house for David. He says that David’s throne will last forever. Now, David responds to this great news from God, and the only way he can really respond is to be amazed. He asks God, is this how you always deal with man? Do we have that same response when God blesses us? Or do we expect God to bless us? Have we grown so used to good things from God that we no longer even pause to thank Him for it? The Bible says that every good and precious gift come from above (James 1:17). Do we thank Him for every good and precious gift, or are we like spoiled children that expect blessings with no sign of thanksgiving to the one that gives so freely. David says in the blessing of his house, he will bless the Lord. That is what the Lord blesses us for, that we can use what we have to bless His name to for the good of others. David says that as his house is blessed, people will look upon it and bless the Lord for his faithfulness. We are called to in all that we do give glory and praise to God. If we have received a blessing, we are to use that blessing for good. We are to bless God with all that we have, and use that blessing to help God’s people.

New Testament Lesson

Galatians 3:1-14

In this passage Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking that what they have has come through their keeping of the Jewish law. Paul tells them that their salvation comes through faith, not through the law. It is through faith they were saved, it was through faith that Abraham was made righteous, and the true children of Abraham are those that believe in through faith. But about after Abraham had faith, what did he do? He obeyed, and followed God. Faith is the beginning point. We can’t be good enough to earn our salvation. We can’t clean up enough. So many folks say, we’ll I’ll just get my life right, and then I’ll come to church. That is backwards. We come to God broken and messy, and He cleans us up, He restores us, He saves us. This is through nothing we have done. But, those that are faithful will then keep his commandments. We are not called to just have faith and have no evidence of that faith in our lives. Jesus said those that love me are those that obey my commands. If we have faith in Him, if we have been saved by Him and though His grace, that same grace will give us the power to live for Him. The same Holy Spirit that saves us will be the same one that will transform us and enable to live holy lives. And what is the holy, obedient life that God calls us to? That we love the Lord our God will all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is the law for the Christian. We must first come in faith. For it is through faith we are saved. But, those that then know the power of God, through His spirit will live lives of holy faithfulness.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 1: 39-56

John the Baptist is born, and everyone rejoices for Elizabeth had been barren. How sweet is it to rejoice with your friends and family when the Lord blesses them. How sweet is the joy that comes at the birth of a niece or nephew, at the salvation of friend, a victory for a teammate? We are called to share in the joys of those that we love, for through Christ, we are all connected. We are to weep when others weep and have joy when others have joy. Elizabeth gives birth, and her friends and family are as joyful as she is. May that be our testimony when God’s grace is made known in the lives of those that we love; may we rejoice in God’s blessing. After the child is born and named John the community says, surely the Lord must have something for this child. So, is it for everyone born. God has a purpose for every life, something that only they can do. John’s purpose was something special and amazing. So is yours. What has God called us to? What has God called us to do that specific for us? He has something for us before we were in born; the prophet Jeremiah says that in the womb, God had a plan for him and for each of us as well. We are precious in the Lord’s sight. Are we seeking His will for our lives? We are each a precious creation of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. May you find what he has for each of us, and may we know His grace in our lives.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fourth Week in Advent: Wednesday

Old Testament Lesson

2 Samuel 7: 1-17

David, after his battles seem to be over, after he has set up his House in Jerusalem says that it is not right for him to have this palace and the Lord to only have a tent. He tells the Lord that He desires to build him this house and through Nathan the Lord replies. He tells David that it is not who will build the Lord’s house; rather it is the Lord that will build David’s. There will come a son after David that will build the Lord’s Temple and God would be with him. It was not God’s will for David to do it. Sometimes, what we think we need to do and what God wills for us to do are very different things. Just because we think we should do it does not mean that it is God’s will. David had good intentions, and really did want to build for the Lord this temple, but that is not what the Lord willed. Are we willing to listen to God, and do as He wills, even if it is different than what we want, and even if what we want is a good thing? For it is not our will that must be done, but God’s will that must be done. David was faithful to God and loved God, and God blessed not only him but his children and through is the descendant of David, as well as God’s own son, Jesus, he blessed us each.

New Testament Lesson

Titus 2: 11-3: 8

It is God’s grace that allows us to say no to sin and be self controlled. Titus talks a lot about self control, primarily because the island of Crete had so little self control, and the Christians there must be disciplined and show the power of God. They must not get caught up in the sin of their land. They must have undivided hearts of love towards God. So must we. We must not get caught up in the ways and sin and pride of our culture, but rather cling tightly to God. And that takes control, and that control can come only through the grace of Our Lord. He goes on in chapter three to say that we were once enslaved to our passions, we were once enslaved to our sins, but we have been saved and set free, and we should live like it. We must remember that we were once lost, but we have been set free. We are called to be different than the world. We are not called to live like the world, for it is by the power of God that we have been saved. We did not save ourselves; God saved us. We should live with thanks and obedience to God, who made us His own.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 1: 39-56

This is Mary’s song of praise to God for what God is doing for her and for the entire world. He exalted Mary for she was humble. It is God that lifts up the lowly. It is God that cares for the poor and the needy. His mercy is upon those that need him, but the proud God sends away. It all comes down to understanding that we need him. If we think we can do it on our own, then we will are wrong and there is nothing the Lord can do for us. But, if we understand that we are needy, that we are poor, that we need Him, then we can know his strength. But, that requires humbling ourselves and admitting that we do need him. Until we can humbly approach God, we won’t know the power of His Spirit. The world teaches us that the way to strength is through power and being tough, the Word teaches us that strength is through humbling, through understating our weakness, and understanding that in our weakness, God’s strength is make perfect. How do we see strength today? Through the world, or through God. For only through God can we know real strength. Mary was humble, and the Lord strengthened her to sing this song of praise. For words of praise to come from our mouths, we must admit our need, and we must find His grace.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fourth Week in Advent: Tuesday

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 2: 1-10

This is Hannah’s prayer after she dedicates Samuel in the Temple. She was barren for many years, and then the Lord promised her a child, a child that she willingly gave back to Him, a child that would go on to become one of the greatest prophets in Israel’s history, a child that would anoint David as king one day. This is her song of praise.

One passages stands out to me, “the bows of the warriors are broken; those that stumble are armed with strength.” We don’t think about strength coming from stumbling. We would think it would be those that have strong bows have strength. Hannah sings, that in the weakness of falling, we can find God’s strength. After all, she was weak and barren, and the Lord gave her a child. It isn’t until we are weak enough to admit that we need His help that we can find his strength. It isn’t until we know that we can’t turn anywhere else but to Him that we can find Him. Out strength comes not from who we are, but rather our strength comes from who He is, and if we will humble ourselves, we will find that He will arm us with His strength.

New Testament Lesson

Titus 2: 1-10

This is a passage about what to teach different groups in the church, older men, younger men, older women, and slaves. And in this teaching, two things are found for each group: self control and the understanding that all they do reflects upon the gospel. Crete was an island where there was no self control. People did as they pleased. The Christian must live a life that is a different, a life that is not controlled by the flesh or by human desires, but a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is not that we should not enjoy life, but we are to understand that our true joy comes from God, and then when God is our true joy, all the joys of life are that much sweeter. But, if we think we can find ultimate joy in our human desires, we will be like the dog chasing its tail, living out of control, hopelessly chasing joy we cannot find. But, in Jesus Christ, we find the joy that we seek. And we should live lives that above all glorify him and draw all people unto Him. If we live lives of joyful obedience to Him, that will attract a world that is chasing pleasure, but coming up empty. His gospel and the proclamation of it through our lives should always be our primary concern.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 1: 26-38

This is passage where Mary tells the angel that she will follow the plan of God and give birth to Jesus. Today, I noticed what the angel said to her to reassure her, through. He said that the power of the Most High will overshadow you. What greater assurance is there in our lives than the fact that Most High will overshadow us? If the Lord has called you to something, He will overshadow you. We may be tempted to think that we are all alone in our missions and in our lives, but in this text, we see it is not so. We see that the Most High will overshadow us, and we see in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth that there are always others that are with us in our journey. There are others that know what we are going through. We are not by ourselves. That is why our church should be important to our lives; in moments where we are tempted feel alone, we can be reminded that we have brothers and sisters walking with us. We do not walk this path of faith alone. There are brothers and sisters that are walking with us. Never think that are you all alone in your faith. Know that the Most High is with you, and know that the Body of Christ is with you as well.

Monday, December 19, 2005

So Tired

Fourth Week in Advent: Monday

Old Testament Lesson

Zephaniah 3:14-20

He will quiet you with His love. I don’t think I’ve read that passage since college. But, what concept that is, especially now as we are this close to Christmas. We will be busy in this week; shopping, traveling, cooking, working. Our minds get so crowded with thoughts other than God. We must slow down. We must think upon God. We must realize His great love for us. And he will quiet us with His love. He will restore us. He will rejoice over us. Our fortunes have bee restored. God will come to us. Let us be still and know that He is Lord.

New Testament Lesson

Titus 1: 1-16

Paul is giving Titus the instructions for elders upon Crete. He lists the things that we always think about and hear, sound doctrine and the like. But he says that they should not be overbearing. They should have self control. Not quick tempered. If we are going to teach the world about Christ, then we should make sure that our actions do not betray what we say that we believe. He then ends by saying that those who are pure, all is put, but to those that are not, nothing is pure, even their minds and their conscious. That is what sin does. It robs our purity. The old saying “your mind is in the gutter” is true. If you are trapped in sin, you mind will not pure. As Christians we must keep our thought pure, and if they are purity will be all around us. If, however, we are focused on sin, sin is all that we will see.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 1: 1-25

It says that one of John the Baptist’s task is to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children, and in all things prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. Preparation for the Lord’s coming is not always a grand and glorious thing. Sometimes it is merely remembering what is important. That is what John did to prepare Israel for the coming of the Lord. He reminded then what was important; he reminded them of things that they already knew. Life and sin can make us forget. We get so busy at work, we forget our family. We get so busy with church, we forget to worship. We get so busy in life; we forget that He is the way, the truth, and the life. John the Baptist calls us to remember, and calls us to repent. Let us never forget what is truly important, and let our lives and our minds never depart from it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

John Spencer of 'West Wing' dies of heart attack

I shocking news, I just found out that John Spencer has died. He played Leo on the West Wing, one of my favorite shows. I loved his characther on the show, it was the strongest and most noble of the characthers on the West Wing. He really was the backbone of the West Wing and it will be deminished.

Third Week in Advent: Saturday

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 8: 9-17

God tells the remnant that he will not punish them like He did their ancestors. All He demands of them is that they live a holy life. He does not just demand that they believe correct doctrine, but that they live a holy life as well. As important as out correct doctrine is, we must live holy lives or we invalidate everything that we say we believe. Wesley believed that doctrine’s most important duty was that of spiritual formation. If our doctrine does not lead our lives closer to Christ, then is it correct, and if so, then do we really believe it and live it? God demands that remnant live holy lives and live in peace and love with their neighbor.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 6: 1-17

This is the four horsemen. Not the ones with Ric Flair, but death and those guys. They come and bring their death and destruction, and the nations mourn their sins. But, if you were to continue reading Revelation, you would see that they did not really repent of their sins, for they still stood in opposition to God. True repentance is a turning from; it is not merely guilt over sins committed. Repentance is a leaving behind of sin and a following of Jesus. That is what our God demands of us in our lives, searching for sin, leaving it and clinging to Jesus.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 25: 31-46

This is the most haunting passage of scripture to me in all of scripture. If we believe it, then how we treat the poor will impact our eternity. Our salvation is not just in accepting Jesus into our hearts, but in living out that promise. If we believe this, then we must serve the least, the last, and the lost. We are not just called to correct belief, but correct life. One of my professors in seminary talked about “orthodox devils.” These were folks that believed correct doctrine, but had no evidence of love in their lives. We are to believe correct doctrine, it is very important. But, that doctrine should be a foundation for a holy life.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Third Week of Advent: Friday

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 7:8-8:8

The Lord commands that we take care of those that are in need. We are commanded to care for the widow, the orphan, the alien. These are the ones that have no power in society, these are the ones that are forgotten, they don’t have their own reality shows. We find them in nursing homes, Head Start Centers, working menial jobs. We as Christians and as the church are commanded to go, to care, and to serve. God doesn’t always call us to the bright light. Most times He calls us off the stage to take of those that are most in need.

The second part of this passage is about God keeping his word to a remnant in Israel. God always had a remnant. No matter how discouraged way may feel, God always has a remnant. The question comes, are we part of it? Do we obey? Do we serve? Do we live? God will save His people. The question is, are we in that number?

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 5:6-14

Jesus is worthy of our praise. He is due our praise. For He is the Lamb that was slain. His blood has purchases people in all the world to serve him and be faithful to Him. He is the one that is worth. He is he object of our praise. He is the one that will be praised for all eternity. And we will join the creatures in heaven and lay before the lamb in praise.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 25:14-30

The devotional guide I’m using has a different theme of prayer each day of the month, and on the 16th of the month, is the “poor in spirit.” So, it is ironic that on the day to pray for own poverty in spirit, we have this text that ends with the saying to those that have much more will be given and to those that have little it will be taken.

I’ve struggled with this passage, and at this point in my life, the only peace I can make with it is that what the Lord demands of us is faithfulness. That is what He asks. He has given each talents and graces and given us each the chance to use them. The question becomes, do we use them? If not, they will be taken, and God will use someone else. Dr. Davis said in college to his classes, “Don’t think you’re God’s last hope.” If we do no use what God has given, He will use someone else.

Go see Narnia. Now.

My wife and I went to see Narnia last night, and it was amazing. It was just really well done. I'm a big CS Lewis fan, and thought the movie was very faithful to the book, especially in the essence of who the children were. Lucy, for instance, in the book has a huge heart and a deep love of Aslan. That really comes through in the movie. I was also impressed with CGI and the animals, they were very realistic.

The only problem I had with it was no fault of its own; it is just reality of why books are better than movies. You really can't get inside the head of the characters in a movie. In the book, Edmund is consumed with Turkish Delight. It nearly takes over his mind. That doesn't really come through, to me, in the movie. But, there is really no way to get it to come through because it is nearly impossible to get inside the mind of a character in a movie.

But, you really must go see it. If you are a Lewis fan, you will enjoy it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Let the blogging begin!

I just recieved my new laptop, so the blogging should by nonstop, as much a blogging by a Methodist preacher is ever nonstop.

The Third Week of Advent: Thursday

Old Testament Lesson

Zech. 4:1-14

It is by God's power that His way is done. Not by our might, nor by our power, but by God's might, by God's power, by God's strenght. Apart from that, we can do nothing, be it in ministry, be it in life.

Revelation 4:9-5:5

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conqured. Very timly, based off Narnia, of course. But, looking at Jesus life, he did not fit the image of conquering that we would think. No parent would want to see their child abandoned and abused as Jesus was. Yet, in the cross and in the empty grave we see that victory and success are not what we make them out to be, but rather what God does.

Matthew 25: 1-13

In this season of Advent, we must be ready. We do not just prepare for the birth in Bethlahem, but we prepare for the coming of our Lord. How will he find us? Will we be ready, or will the noise of our lives keep us from hearing his arrival.

This Day: A Wesleyan Way of Prayer

I'll be reflecting daily upon the lectionary readings that go along with This Day. The lectionary used in it is the same as in the Daily Office as found in the Book of Common Prayer. The The Voice has a great listing of the selections for each day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And to all a good night, or after noon.

Good afternoon. This is my blog, 'Mid Toil and Tribulation, taken from the hymn The Church's One Foundation. This will be a place where I post my morning reflecitons upon the Daily Lectionary, as well as reflection upon other issues that are important to me.