Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How to say I love you

Fellas, or even ladies, here is the perfect way to show that someone special just how much you love them. I know this will make my wife's Valentine's Gift even more special this year.

Hat tip

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany: Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 21:1-21

One of the things that we don't always think about in the Old Testament is the mercy of God. We see that fully on display here. On one hand, God tells Abraham that it is OK to send Hagar and Ishmael away, but on the other, He take care of them. What at one point looks like God is letting them be abandoned actually turns into God's plan of hope for them. God was merciful to Ishmael, and while the promise would not be carried through him, God would still take care of him.

We don't always understand God's plan. Hagar weeps today because she thinks that God has abandoned them and they are in the dessert to die. God had something else in mind. Sometimes, when we think we are lost in the wilderness, we are right where God would have us to be. Sometimes the wilderness is part of God's plan that will lead us to life, for it is there we see that are totally dependant upon God and His strength. Sometimes the place that we do not want to be is the very place that God needs us to be.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 11:13-22

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture in the Bible and perhaps the best sermon I've ever heard was preached off of it. It says that because of their faith, God was not ashamed to be called their God. Think about that, how is God often made know in the Old Testament, "the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob." He is identified by His people. Think about that. He is not ashamed to be identified with His children. He is not ashamed to be known as the God of Andy Stoddard. If you're a child of God He is not ashamed to be known as the God of (your name here). Wow, how great is His love for His children?

So often, we think we are unworthy of His grace, we think that we are undeserving of His mercy (which we are). But, God pours it out on His children and He delights in us. Think about this today, if you have placed your full faith in Jesus (you must first do this), then He is not ashamed to be called your God. If you have faith in Him, He is not ashamed of you, He is proud proud of you. Today, live you life in such away where your faith in Him is as strong as His faith in you.

Gospel Lesson

John 6:41-51

One of the most powerful things we can do as a church and as God's children is receive holy communion. Today, Jesus said that part of what leads to eternal life is that we eat the living bread of heaven, which is His flesh. Jesus gave Himself for us that we could live, and through Holy Communion, we receive God' grace, and that grace empowers us to live more as Jesus commanded. Wesley said Communion was a "means of grace," something that gives us grace and helps our faith to grow. But, he said there were otters Means of Grace: prayer, searching the scriptures, and fasting we some of these. The point is that God gives us things such as these that can strengthen our faith and help us to grow. Are you seeking after these things? Are you spending time in the Word of God? Are you praying? Do you attend Holy Communion when it is offered in your church? Do you live with discipline. In these things, God give us grace. We cannot grow apart from prayer, from scripture, and Wesley would say that we cannot grow apart from receiving Holy Communion. Are you partaking in things that will help your faith to grow, or are you partaking in things that will drive you away from God?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany: Monday, January 30, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 19:1-29

There are certain passages of scripture that are easier to deal with than others. Most of those easier passages seem to come from the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we see things like Sodom and Gomorrah. This is a disturbing passage. I don't know where to start. First, Lott's a good guy, but when they come looking for the angels to have sex with them, he offers them his daughters (?!?). I know he was fearful and I know it was a different time, but still, as the father of a daughter, that bothers me greatly. Also, it is a tough image to see God destroy these towns, in spite of their sin. I take two things from this passage. First, as in a lot of the Old Testament, God's promises aren't based on the goodness of humans, but rather upon His word. Now, if Lott would have stayed, he would have been destroyed, and we see what happened to his wife. But, they were not saved because they were perfect, but because God had given His promises. We not saved because we are perfect, but because of God's grace and mercy given to us.

Second, as much as God is a god of Love, He is also a god that will bring judgement. Sodom and Gomorrah had turned from Him and suffered the result. The Word says that He will punish His children to bring them back. As much as we love the mercy of God, we must not forget His holiness and one day, He will judge.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 11:1-12

In Hebrews, we see our response to God's promise: Faith. It is by faith we are justified and by faith we are saved. That faith should and must prompt us to a holy life, but it must start with faith. Notice in the text, the faith of each person caused them to do something. They didn't just have faith and do nothing; they had faith and it brought forth a holy life. But, notice the text does not commend these saints first for their action, but for their faith, that faith then showed its fruit in action towards God. It starts with faith. That is where everything must begin. Our actions are not good enough. Only faith. But, then faith, if it is truly alive, will lead us to live the type of life that God wills for His children.

Gospel Lesson

John 6:27-40

Jesus said, this is work of God, believe in Him, the one that God sent. Too often we feel like if we are just good enough. If we just go to church enough or do these things enough. No, it isn't about that. You can't be good enough. That is why Jesus came, to set us free. You can be free from sin. You are freed from the law of works! You live by grace! We live by faith! It isn't about what we do; it is about what God had done for us through Jesus. We can live by grace and faith. We don't have to carry a burden on out backs. We can be free from this. This faith and believe will produce life, but we can be free. You don't have to stay in your chains, in your guilt, or in your legalism. You can be free to live by grace. As Paul tells the Galatians, it is for freedom you have been set free. Do you live in God's freedom today, or are you still bound in your chains? He had called us to live free through grace and through faith.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Let thy goodness, like a fetter

Those are some of the words to one of my favorite hymns, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." I love in the last line in the UM Hymnal how it say that we are prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. So much of faith can be summed up in that one phrase. Prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love.

I write this on a Sunday after a day of preaching and singing at church and feel so excited because of what God is doing in our church. Today, we witnessed folks come to the altar and pray, we felt God's Spirit in worship, and enjoyed good fellowship following morning worship. Tonight we had a service of song, and it was a joyful time.

But at the same time, we get so tied into this world to at the same time our mouths are praising God, our minds are thinking about tomorrow and work. Or thinking about some ballgame. Or thinking about anything but God.

We are prone to wander. Maybe not to wander out into traffic, but to wander away from our mission. Wander away from our purpose. Wander away from giving God everything.

I am blessed to have a wonderful wife, beautiful daughter, and a warm and loving church. But, sometimes it is not things of God that most excite me, but the things of the world. Sometimes instead of being broken hearted over those that are in physical or spiritual need, I am broken hearted over something like a scratch on my truck. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.

But, I know that I'm not the only one. And I know that His grace is sufficient. And I know that repentance is the work of grace because through it, we can come back to God. And I know that tomorrow is another day. And God is still there. Maybe it didn't all work out today, but tomorrow, God's grace will be there. Here's my heart, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Third Sunday after Epiphany: Friday, January 27, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 17:15-27

One of the things that so amazing about these scenes with Abraham is that he is never perfect. Today, God promises to give him a son, and he laughs at God. He believed God enough to leave his home town, but not enough to give him a son. Plus, he and Sarah didn't think God would come through, so they Abraham fathered Ishmael with Hagar. But, through this, God remains true to His promise to bless Abraham and raise up a mighty people from him. Aren't you glad that God's promises don't depend upon us. We are like Peter, sometimes faithful, sometimes not, but God is always faithful. God is always true to His word, God is always true to His promises. Now, we must not take that faithfulness for granted, we must not think, oh, I can do whatever I like because God doesn't care. Of course He does. And if we are really His child, then we will care too. It's hard to be a child of God and think lightly of sin. But, remember, God's promise is not dependant upon you, its dependant upon Him. And He is faithful and true; He merely asks us to be faithful to Him.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 10:11-25

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Boy, we preachers could talk about that one all day long. But, that is what the Word says. Some folks say, I can worship God at the Lake or a deer stand, and yes, you can. But is your purpose in going to the lake or deer stand to worship God, or is it something else. And as the Word says this morning, worship God is not the only reason for church. We come together to come together. There is something holy about gathering together with God's people. We need the fellowship with each other. We need the support, we need the encouragement. We are part of one body, and we need each other. The text say to encourage one another, even more as you see the day approaching. Now, I'm not saying if you aren't in church this Sunday you are a bad and evil person, but I am saying that church should be important to you. Even if you don't like the preacher. Even if you don't like the hymns.. Even if you don't like any of that. It should be important because as Christians, we need each other. We need each other's prayers and support. It is hard to walk the road of the Christian life alone. We need those brothers and sisters. Do not give up meeting together, that is what the Word says.

Gospel Lesson

John 6:1-15

I've always admired Andrew and the boy's role in this story. He didn't have much, but he offered it and Jesus used it for something amazing. He offered a few loaves and fish, and Jesus feed five thousand. We might not think that we have much, we might not think that what little we can give is worth anything, but if we give with a faithful and true heart, God will use it. The miracle here is not just that Jesus feed the 5000, but how he did it, by using some one's small gift. You are gifted by God in amazing ways. God has given you something awesome. It may not look like much to you, but imagine what it could in God's hands. 5 loaves and 2 fish is not much. But through the grace of Jesus Christ, it feed 5000. What could our gifts and talents be used for through God's grace. No gift, no talent is too small in God's hands. If you give it Him, He can use it in miraculous ways.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hospital Blogging with my Ipaq

Waiting on a church member in the hospital having surgery. This is one of the most rewarding parts of ministry, but it takes the most patience.

Third Sunday after Epiphany, Thursday, January 26, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 16:15-17:14

Today, Abram became Abraham, and God gave him a covenant; that of circumcision. This was a sign of the covenant that he had made with Abraham before, that he would have offspring, and they would possess the land.

John Wesley wrote that just a circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, Baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. In the New, God promises that if we believe in our hearts and have faith in Jesus, we shall be saved. In both covenants, God is giving to the people something they do not deserve. To Abraham and his descendants, they are getting land that they didn't deserve, but that God gave them out of His mercy. Likewise, we received salvation not off of anything that we have done, rather it is through the mercy of God. And God's mercy shall not be taken lightly. God's grace is free, but it is not cheap. Are you part of that New Covenant this morning? Not, are you baptized, for as important as it is, it is not salvation. Are you born again? Wesley often told people, "do not tell me of your baptism, tell me of your conversion." The sign of New Covenant is only useful if we have done our part in the New Covenant: belief and faith.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 10:1-10

Once again in Hebrews we see how Christ did for us what the Law could not. He paid the price we could not pay, he did for us what the Law could not do. He is the Lamb that was sacrificed to free the people from their sin. He endured all of this for our salvation and freedom; we must not take it for granted. We must not think lightly of his sacrifice. We must not take grace for granted. How many of us will remember for a long time when someone treats us nice at a store or a restaurant. How much more should we constantly thank God for what Jesus Christ did for you and me. It's one thing to have a nice waitress, its another to have the Son of God die for your sins. And then, He rose again, so not only was the penalty paid, but the victory was won. He paid the price for our sins, and the won the war with the devil and the forces of evil. And we could not do this ourselves. How thankful should we be? How worthy of our praise is Jesus. Stop today and think about what He has done for us. Take a moment away from work or your day and remember what he has done, and think about just how thankful we should be. Oh, the love of God and the praise that He deserves.

Gospel Lesson

John 5:30-47

Jesus tells them today to think about the testimonies of other people, and see that as proof of who He is, but He knows they will not, for their hearts are not full of God's love. There is something moving about hearing some one's testimony, a testament to what God has done in their lives. But, each of us has a testimony. If you are a Christian, you have a testimony. Maybe it's not a tearful walking down the aisle story, maybe it is. But if your saved, then God has worked in your life in some way, and you have something to tell others about. Are you sharing that testimony with others day? Do you give witness to others as to what Jesus has done for you? He has done so much for you and me, and we should be active in sharing that with all that need to hear.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Third Sunday after Epiphany, Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 16:1-14

One thing I love about the Bible is that the folks that are the heroes aren't always painted to look like saints. Today, we have Abram say, sure I'll sleep with my wife's servant. We know that will end well. We have Sarai first deciding that she will not wait on God, and then when her plan works (!) she gets upset and runs off her servant. The only that looks sort of moral in the entire scene is Hagar.

And these are the folks through whom God's promise will come to pass. God doesn't choose the perfect. We are all imperfect. What He does is He takes us where we are and makes us who we should be. The question becomes, will we submit to God Today Abram and Sarai didn't submit; they wanted to do ti there way. And look how that turned out. The question for you today is not are perfect, but are you submitting to God's plan for you life. If you are following God, His grace will work on those imperfections and get rid of them. If you follow. If we try to do it on our own, we may wind up like this terrible situation.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 9:15-28

"(W)ithout the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" I had a professor in seminary that didn't like what he called the "blood songs." Are you Washed in the Blood, There is a Fountain Filled with Blood, those type songs. He said it didn't leave a good image in our minds. While I am not a big fan of blood in general, I disagree. The Word says this morning without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Without the blood of Jesus, without what he did for you and me, we could not know God's forgiveness. That is why Jesus came; to save you and me. The bible says that God was reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus Christ. God longs to have us come home, and that is able only through the shed blood of Jesus. Are you waiting until you are "good enough" to come home? We will never be good enough. God has already made a way home through the blood of Jesus. Are at peace with God today? God has made a way. Will we take it?

Gospel Lesson

John 5:19-29

As many of you know, I had to answer a bunch of questions recently for the process of ordination in the Methodist church. One of them dealt with the resurrection what was it? I said it is the body bringing back to life of Jesus Christ, and something that all that believe will experience one day. I also said it is the greater evidence that God wins, that the power of death and the grave have been defeated. Do you believe that today? Death has been defeated. Now it will have what looks like a momentary victory when our loved one dies because of the the grief we have, but in reality, even then death has no one, for we grieve not for the one that has gone, we grieve for ourselves. Jesus Christ has the power to raise the dead to life, and to those of us that believe, one day that will happen to us. The question is, will you wait until then be alive? Today, we can know a glimpse of God's eternal life through walking with Jesus Christ. Do you walk with Him daily? Or do we wait until the end, thinking that we'll know it then. The problem is, if we aren't walking daily, we may not make it in the end. Do you know that you will have that life in the end? Do you know that you have life today? If you can answer the second question, you can answer the first.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Back to life, back to reality

Sorry for no blogging yesterday, I was in Jackson, MS turning in all my forms and paperwork for ordination. The next step will be on March 17-18 when I am interviewed by the Board of Ordained Ministry. Everything should be back to normal now, however that is defined.

Third Sunday after Epiphany, Tuesday, January 24. 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 15:1-11, 17-21

Verse six says, "Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." This was on of the key verses for Paul in the New Testament. Abraham's righteousness did not come from what he did, but rather it came from his belief. It was that belief that was his righteousness, But, yet, look at the life of Abraham, it was his belief that may have been credited with righteousness but that belief produced action. What goes does it do for us to say that we believe in God, that we have faith, if there is no evidence that we believe. Yes, we are saved by grace through faith, lest no one can boast, that is what Paul writes, but that faith will lead to a different life. James says that even the devils believe. That belief must produce obedience. It is obedience that is the sign of belief and of faith. Abraham believed, that was his righteousness and then what did that belief cause? Obedience. So may it be for each of us today. May we believe, and may we obey. Or as the old hymn goes, Trust and Obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 9:1-14

The book of Hebrews continues that same thought in saying that we are not cleansed by any action or sacrifice, but we are cleansed through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is through what He did for each of us that we can stand before God. It is through His sacrifice that we can return to God. Once again, it is about what He has done, not we what have done. We cannot be good enough. We cannot mistake church attendance or reading the bible, or coming from a good family, or looking like a good person, we cannot mistake these things for faith. We must first have faith, we must first be born again, and then these things flow from that. T

here is a difference between habit and commitment. Habit is what we do because it is what we have always done, and that's just what good people do. Commitment is what we do because of a changed heart and we are living lives of thankfulness. Do you got to church based off habit, or commitment? Do you go because you want to look like a good person and you thing that "pew time" will get you into heaven? Or do you go because you realize what Jesus Christ has done for you and you are so thankful that you are committed to live a different life. Are thankful today? Are you committed today? Or are you just going through the motions? It is because of what He had done for us, that is the foundation.

Gospel Lesson

John 5:1-18

Do you want to be well? That is the question that Jesus asks the man in the text today. If so, take your mat and go. We think, well, who wouldn't want to be well? Who would want to stay sick? Why would we choose something like that over the new life of freedom? Why would we choose to stay sick instead of walk with the Lord? Because if we walked, he would have to change his life, and while his old life was that of sickness, his new life would be different and he might now know everything would turn out.

Why would we choose to stay where we are in faith, instead of walking closer to the Lord? I don't know where each of you are with faith. Maybe you're a new Christian, maybe you've been walking with the Lord everyday for 40 years. I don't know, but do you want to walk closer with Him? Then pick up your mat and go. But we don't sometime. We get too comfortable where we are. We want enough faith to get us into heaven, but not enough to really change our lives. Sometimes we are afraid to walk closer to the Lord because there's no telling what He might ask us to do. But, walking with Him is life. In doing that you are really, really alive. Don't settle for less than true life. Don't settle for second best. God has something awesome out there for you today, if you will follow. Do you want to be well today? Pick up your mat and walk.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

What holiday did you celebrate last Monday

The people of Schertz, TX have an interesting take on last Last Monday's Holiday.

Hat tip John

Friday, January 20, 2006

Heaven is a lot furrier today

I posted earlier about the loss of my friend and dog, Cherry. I just recieved an email about Jean. Jean was a guide dog for a friend of mine that is also a United Methodist Pastor, Eric Pridmore. And those of us that know Eric and Jean, know that Eric was riding Jean's coatails. Sadly, Jean had cancer, and today, he died. Jean was commissioned for ministry when Eric was ordained.

Some would think it sad to spend so much time talking about animals. But, in the book of Isaiah how is heaven painted but as a land where the lion and lamb lay together. God created the animals as a part of the earth, and in our fall, we took them with us. Now, I'm not saying we should go crazy over this, but I do beleive that it is our Christian duty to care for these pieces of God's creation.

So, farewell, furry friends. Thank you for the joy you gave us, the love, the friendship. We will miss you, but through our laughter, stoires, and finding of a stray bone, we will always remember you.

Good bye friend

One of the joys of living in country was that my dog was able to run free, off a leash. The problem was that she could run into the highway. When I am at the chuch working, she would lie around and wait for me to come out, and sometimes chase trucks on a side road. Today, she wandered into Hwy 21 and will no longer be able to wait for me outside the church. I will miss her dearly, she was the sweetest dog I've ever had.

Second Sunday after Epiphany: Friday, January 20, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 11:27-12:8

Of all the things that stand out to me, it is one of the promises of God to Abram. He told Abram to go to a land that I will show you. He didn’t tell him where he was going. He didn’t tell him if it was a great land or terrible, how far it would be, what he would do when he got there. It would be a land that God would show him.

That is faith. Not knowing where God is sending you, but going anywhere. Not knowing what the end may be, but going anyway. Faith in many ways is trust in God. We don’t always know the land where God is sending us, but we know God. And if we know God, we can trust where He is sending us. Where is He sending you today? To what land are you going? Even if you don’t know the way, you know the God that is sending you there. Trust in Him today for the road to that land.

New Testament Lessons

Hebrews 7:1-17

Melchizedek was a priest based not on geology or family, but on his calling and his life. Our calling is what matters, not our family. As important as family is in making us who we are, our calling and our life is the most important.

Gospel Lesson

John 4:16-26

In verse 19, the woman at the well finds out that Jesus is more than just an ordinary man, but He is from God. So she immediately changes the subject. Jesus comes to us and wants us to change our lives. So, sometimes we push Him away, because we don’t want to change. But, it’s only through that change that we find life. The question becomes will we choose to stay the way we are, or will we choose to give our lives to Jesus, receive the changes He will make and find life.

How I do ordaination questions.

I've decided to stop doing my own work and have found someone much smarter than I, plus she's a better speller.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

If you are really bored. . .check this out

I've started posting my sermons to our church website. You can click here to download my sermons in mp3 formate. There big files, so it would be helpful to to have either a highspeed connection, or lots of patience. You can click here to start the fun!

Second Sunday after Epiphany: Thursday, January 19, 2006

A special birthday prayer to my father in law, Eddie Calcote, a good man, today

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 11: 1-9

Babel happened because of pride. The people on the earth thought they could do this and show how great they were, but God had other plans. Last night in Bible Study here at Coy we talked about temptation and one of the surest ways to fall into temptation is to become prideful. The moment we think we are stronger than we really are is the moment that trouble can start. The people at Babel thought they could do all these things and in turn the Lord confused them. We must always remember no matter our power, titles, money, or whatever, that we are not God. He is and He is the ultimate power.

Notice what their fear was, they not be scatter over the earth. What did their pride cause to happen? They were scattered all over the earth. Be careful with sin and temptation. It will lead you into places that you do not want to go.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 6: 13-20

The hope we have in Jesus is an anchor for the soul. I’m not much of a water person. Don’t like boats or skiing or any of that. I swim like a rock, so I prefer the land. That said, the one thing I do know is that a good anchor will hold in you place. It will keep you boat from being moved by the storm, wind, or waves. If you anchor is down deep, you are there. That is how Jesus should be the for the Christian. He should be our anchor. Storms will come. Waves will sweep over us. The rain will fall. And many may be over come. He must be that anchor that will hold us in place for the time of storm. I don’t know what storm you may be facing know, or will be facing, but I pray that Jesus is your anchor that will keep you firmly in place, and if He is our anchor, we will survive the storm. He will not let the waves overcome us. We just have to have faith in the One that has never failed us before. So, why would he start now? Make sure that He is your anchor for the storm.

Gospel Lesson

John 4: 1-15

Ever had a conversation where people are talking, but no one is listening? That is what Jesus is having here. He is trying to tell this woman about the gift of eternal life that he offers, and she things he’s talking about actual water. Jesus was talking to her, but she wasn’t really listening. Sometimes, Jesus has these types of conversions with us. He may be trying to tell us something, but we may not be listening. Prayer is a conversation. That means that we talk and we listen. Do we really listen to God in prayer? Do we allow ourselves be quiet and listen for His voice? Do we give Him a chance to speak? Sometimes we finish saying what we want in our prayers, and we think we are through. For us to hear God’s voice, we have to listen. Are you listening to Him in your prayer today, or are you just talking? We have to listen for His voice, lest we be like the woman at the well and miss the gift of life that He is trying to offer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Second Sunday after Epiphany: Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 9:18-29

Righteous action in the past does not means righteous action in the present.  Noah was faithful to God when no one else was, but after the flood, he grew a vineyard and got drunk.  Now, think about how long it takes a grow a vineyard.  The text moves fast so we don't really get a full view of the time here, but it takes months to grow a vineyard. It isn't like Noah just popped into the liquor store.  He was planning this sinful action.  He had acted with righteousness before, but he did not in this situation.  We cannot rest on the things we have done for God.  What are we doing for God now.  A testimony is not what has God done in your life, it is what is God doing in your your.  Do not be content with what you may have done for God in the past, what are doing for God today?  Are you living for God today?  Are you being faithful today?  are you seeking after Him today?  That is the question we must answer, today. 

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 6:1-12

Today, the text tells us not be lazy, and to imitate those that have been faithful.  The text was originally talking about their Hebrew ancestors such as Moses, Abraham, and the others.  I think that this is good point for us as well.  We should imitate those in scripture that led a holy life, but we should also seek out those in our church, in our families that have been Godly, and do as they do.  Gain their advice and wisdom.  Listen to them.  There are so many folks around around us (especially in church) who have lived a holy life for many years.  They can be a great help to us in living our lives.  John Wesley, no matter how old he was, always wrote back to his mother to ask advice on spiritual matters.  Why?  because he knew she was faithful to God.  Who in the Word can you imitate?  Who in you life can you imitate and gain wisdom?  God did not put us here to live out live alone, but rather gaining help and wisdom from those we love and respect. 

Gospel Lesson

John 3:22-36

John had the proper understanding of who Jesus was and who he was.  He said for Jesus to become greater, he must become less.  How many of would say that this morning.  We must become less.  We live in a culture that says that it's all about us.  The Word tells us, no its not. It's about Jesus. Is your life about you, or about Him?  Is your life about you, or His mission?  John says he must become less so Jesus would become greater.  For us to find the life that He longs to give us, may we pray that same prayer today. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Second Sunday after Epiphany: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 9:1-17

God in this text makes a covenant with Noah.  First He gives them all the animals of the earth as meet for food, and I am very thankful for that.  Notice He also says that the animals will fear humans now, which I guess if he didn't do that, hunting would be much easier.  But, the big news of this text is one that we all know so well and one that we teach to our children and grandchildren.  The rainbow.  After the flood God promise not to flood the earth again. And while on some rainy weeks we many jokingly wonder about that, we know that we can trust God's promises.  That is one toe the amazing things about this text and all the Word. This God of all creation, this almighty and all powerful God makes promises to me and you. Promises that He will not leave, promises that He will not forsake.  Promises that He will be with us. Today, He promises not to flood the earth again and He has kept His promise.  Do you trust Him today.  He will not go back on His word.  Read His promises to us daily and trust in them.  He will not break the covenant He has made with us.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 5:7-14

A couple of things from this text.  First, notice Jesus was obedient.  He was the very son of God, fully human and fully God.  And He was obedient.  If Jesus Christ was obedient, how much more should we be obedient.  If He was willing to submit Himself to the will of the Fatter, how much more should we be willing to submit ourselves to the will of the Father.  I think often about Jesus going early to pray, and how essential that was to His ministry. Do we do likewise?  If He understood that importance of that relationship with God, shouldn't we?

Second, the text says that we need the meet of God, not just the milk.  I see it with my daughter. That child loves her milk.  Not too fond of real food.  The milk tastes good, and it does make you feel full. But her to grow, she needs real food, which is slowly like more and more.  As Christians we are the same. We must not the settle for the milk of the word, but must dig into the meat of the word.  We need to go deep and sea ch the word for yourself and make it our own.  Don't settle for just a surface knowledge of God's word, dig deeper every day. 

Gospel Lesson

John 3:16-21

We of course see the famous passage, John 3: 16, but I'd like to call your attention to one that gets passed over.  Verse 19 says, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil."  Folks loved there sin more than they loved Jesus Christ.  We think isn't that awful, how could they do that. But don't you and I do the same thing?  How often do we pick our sin or our will over His?  These folks were in darkness and they picked their darkness over the light of God.  We pick our judgement, we pick our condemnation We we pick sin over God that is what happens.  When we pick our darkness over the light of God, that is what happens. Today, what will you pick?  Will you love darkness over light, or will you be obedience the light of God that came to save you and me. 

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I love this game! Its FANTASTIC!!!!!

It sure is nice to be an Ole Miss fan for the first time in . . . . its been a long, long time.

Go read this

My good friend Bro. Greg just got back from a misson trip to the MS Gulf coast. You should go and read about his experience. Our memories are so short term that we forget things happened just a few months ago. Go and read this and remember what folks have went through and remember them in your prayers as well.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ordination Fun

No better way to spend your Friday than working ordination questions

Baptism of the Lord: Friday, January 13, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 6:1-8

There does come times when its seems like evil is that we see.  That's how it was for Noah's time.  All around was evil and sin, and the Lord decided to start over, if you will.  But even in all the sin, there was still one that was righteousness, Noah, and his family.  And they were saved from the flood.  Sometimes, we are more tempted to focus on the evil all around than we are to be focused on the good that we can, the holy lives that we can lead.  The only person in this life I can control is myself.  I can't control my family, my church, my friends.  I can only control myself.  While we should fight against evil in this world, we must not get so focused on what is wrong that we forget to pay attention to how we are living.  We should fight not only against the sin in this world, but the sin that is in each of us. 

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 3:12-19

So much of sin comes from a hardened heart, a heart that has turned away from God. And it is a circle, because sin hardens our heart.  So, the more we sin, the more our heart becomes hard, and the more our heart becomes hard, the more we sin.  One of the temptations that the devil uses is that "no one will know."  Well, first God will.  And second, our heart will.  No one may know that we are sinning, but our heart grows hard.  No one may know that we have turned away from God, but our heart does.  That is what sin does.  It is not be be played with.  Seek the Lord today, and do not let you hearts grow hard, lest you forget how great His love is. 

Gospel Lesson

John 2:1-12

So often we are tempted to say, the Lord doesn't care about this concern, it is so minor, so I won't pray about it.  In the grand scheme of things, how important is a inconvenience at a wedding?  Now, the to bride and groom, and their families, ti was a really big deal. But, no one was starving or dieing or anything as tragic.  To to world, not a huge deal.  To the family,  a very big deal.  And this is where Jesus performed His first miracle, taking care of a problem.  He solved the problem for this family, made it better than it should have been.  No concern is too small for Jesus.  No worry is too small for Jesus.  No problem is too small for Jesus.  Don't wait until you are sick or grieving to pray.  Give your life and concerned to him daily.  Nothing is too small to take to Him in prayer.  Don't wait.  He turned the water into wine and saved the wedding.  What concern in your life can He not work on because you refuse to give it to Him in prayer.  In the Gospels, it says that there were some towns where He could no miracles because of their lack of faith.  We should not our lack of Faith or pray be the things that stops God from working in our lives. 

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Baptism of the Lord, Thursday, January 12, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 4:17-26

We see now that after he is punished by God for killing his brother Able, Cain has a family and generations pass until there is one named Lamech, who is apparently pretty wretched. He says that he will avenge those that harm him worse that Cain avenged. Cain is the first murdered in the world and now his later offspring is basically saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” The Word tells us that the sins of the parents are passed down to the children, and that punishment sometimes comes in future generations. Cain’s offspring are reaping what he has sown. He murdered and departed from the Lord, and from that moment, his family was apart from the Lord. Now, this is not to say that if the parents are Christian, the child will be, and likewise this is not saying that if the parents are lost the child will be. But, in both cases what the parents do affects what he children do. Cain never lived to see Lamech. But, the effects of his sin did. We will not live long enough to see generations into the future, but are we living in such a manner that the affects of our sin may be passed down to them. We should live knowing that our lives do not just affect us, but our family and those yet to come.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 3:1-11

Today, Hebrews tells us that Jesus was greater than Moses. We think, well of course. But to the original readers of this letter that was a really big deal. It was Moses that led the people of our Egypt. It was Moses that led them in wilderness. It was Moses that preformed miracles. It was Moses that received the Law. So, Moses was the standard of righteousness and holiness. And Jesus is great than Moses. What does mean to us? Jesus is bigger than any person. Many of us place our ultimate faith in another person. For instance, why do you come to church? Is it for the preacher? Or is it for Jesus? Jesus is greater than the preacher, whoever they are (and as my granny would say, I are one). I hope pray that on Sunday, Coy Methodist will be filled not with folks coming to listen to me, but instead to worship Jesus. I hope and pray I share with them something to strength their faith and call the lost to salvation, but we come to church for Jesus, not for anyone else. Jesus was greater than Moses, great than you, greater than me, greater than any human. It is He who we worship, He who we adore.

Gospel Lesson

John 1:43-51

Phillip today is the example for us. He had seen Jesus, and he knew that He was the one that would save the people. So, he goes to his friend Nathaniel and tells him. He doesn’t beat him up, he doesn’t try to do anything more than just tell him what he has seen, and offer to take him to Jesus. Folks that is witnessing. It is not complicated. It is merely about meeting Jesus yourself and then telling others what he has done. We can’t make folks come. All we can do is offer to take them to Jesus. But first, we have to have met Jesus ourselves. We can’t give witness to something that we don’t know. If we are not walking with Lord, how can we lead others to Him? And once we are walking with Him, we just merely ask folks to come walk beside us and meet the Lord. A Christian group named Casting Crowns has a song on their new CD which calls people to “Love them like Jesus.” That’s how we lead folks to Him. And in loving them like that, we can better lead a dying world to that saving grace.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Baptism of the Lord: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 4: 1-16

The Lord warned Cain today that sin was crouching at his door, and it desired to have him, but he must master it.  Cain did not; he gave into sin and killed his brother Able. The sin was crouching, waiting, for just the right moment to pounce.  I think there are 2 things to note; first that sin was crouching, waiting.  The temptation is strongest at certain moments.  We must always be on the look out for temptation.  We must not let out guard down, and we must not think that we are stronger than we really are. The moment we think we are immune to temptation is the moment when we are most at risk.  Look for the crouching sin in your life.

And in looking for it constantly, we move to the second thing, the Lord said Cain must master it.  When we realize that temptation is always around us and are always aware of what's happening, then we can master it.  Does that mean that we will not give into to temptation?  No we still may fall. Does that mean that we are immune to sin?  No, it's the pride that goeth before the fall. But when we are aware of temptation all around crouching, it is easier to see it coming and defeat it.  I believe we can fight against sin and temptation and defeat it. The Lord has given us through the Holy Spirit the power to fight against sin and live a holy life. Sin is always crouching, but we must master it

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 2: 11-18

This passage shows us how we fight against sin; Jesus Christ. Since he was like us and defeated sin and death, we, through Him, have the power to fight these things.  The Word says that says that in His death he destroyed the power of sin and the devil and freed those captive.  We are free. If the Lord has saved you, then you are walking by His power and His strength.  It does not have to be as it has always been.  The Lord can and will set you free, if you will allow.  Through the cross and the grave, sin and devil were defeated.  We serve one that has won the victory and through faith will give us the victory.  You do not have to remain in your chains today; you can be set free.  But in your freedom, do not return to your chains.  If you have been set free through Christ, don't give into the crouching sin; instead live in the power that Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, has given you.

Gospel Lesson

John 1: 29-42

John the Baptist completes the conversation on sin upon when seeing Jesus calls him the Lamb of God that comes to take away the sin of the world.  Jesus Christ didn't endure what He did so that you and I can play games with sin.  This is serious businesses. If He won the victory of sin, and has given us that victory, we must claim it and we must seek to live in it.  Thus, sin is not a toy to be played with.  Jesus came to set us free.

How are we set free?  By doing what Andrew did in the text.  Follow Jesus. If you follow sin, sin will have you.  If you follow Jesus each day, you will receive His strength and power.  Who are you following today?  Andrew saw the Lamb of God and he followed. What do you and I do?  Do we follow the Lamb of God each day?  Or do we follow only when we need Him.  We will not know His power unless we are faithful to Him.  Only in being committed to Him can we fully know His strength and His grace.

And then once Andrew followed, he brought other folks with him.  When was the last time you told someone about your Jesus?  When was the last time you told a friend (or even and enemy) about what He has done for you. Part of following Him is doing that.  Are we in our lives helping others to meet Jesus?

He is the Lamb of God that came to take away the sin of the world, may He be glorified today in our words and in our lives. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Baptism of the Lord: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 3: 1-24

This is a text that we know well, and an event that as affected us more than any other (save the cross) in history. The fall of Adam and Eve. As I read this text several things popped out to me today, but one thing in particular stuck with me.  Notice that to Eve (and Adam) the fruit looked pleasing to the eye. So much sin looks pleasing to the eye.  Sin always looks good.  Sin always looks like it might be fun. That is why it is called temptation.  No one is tempted to do something good. We are tempted to do things that are not good for us, but we think may be "worth" it.  We are tempted to eat chocolate and cheeseburgers.  We are not tempted to eat our vegetables.

In spite of how good it may look, temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death.  Yet, to Eve it looked good. That is why as Christian we are commanded to walk by faith and not by sight.  Because to our sight, sin may look good, but, if we are walking by God's spirit, then we will be able to see correctly. Sin may look good, but in the end it will destroy us. Be careful today that you walk by faith and be aware of those things like that look pleasing to your eyes, but will lead to your destruction.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 2: 1-10

There's an old saying, "Ignorance is bliss."  If you don't know, it doesn't matter as much to you.  Today, in Hebrews it talks about that there was judgment in the past for those that ignored the word from angels, and then how much more judgment we will face if we ignore this great salvation from God.  Those of us that know better should do better. Those of us that know the truth of God should live the truth of God. For we know what to do, we know how to live, we know the right decisions to make, we know the path that leads to heaven. And we should walk it. There is no excuse and judgment will come for those that hear the Word of the Lord and then ignore it.  For God, through Jesus, has given us this great gift of salvation, and we should not take it for granted.  We should not, must not ignore the commands of God.  I don't know if ignorance is bliss, but I do know that ignoring God is not. Listen to God today, through the Word, through prayer, and through brothers and sisters in Christ. Listen for His command, His grace, and then, may that grace empower us to be obedient to the word he has given.

Gospel Lesson

John 1: 19-28

In John the Baptist, we see and image of one that is sent on a mission, and he is focused on that mission alone.  They come and ask him who he is, and speaks about his mission; his focus on Jesus and preparing the way.  Noting could keep him from doing what God had placed him on the earth to do.  Nothing could keep him from his mission.

God has given each of us a mission and a purpose.  We are not here by accident.  You are not reading this by accident. I am not typing this by accident. We all have a purpose in our lives; we all have a mission. Are faithful to it?  See the devil and the forces of evil will do everything in their power to keep is from what God has put us here to do. They will use everything in their power to keep us from our purpose.  Do not let them. For it's in God you find meaning, it's in Jesus Christ you find you mission in life.  Are you seeking it today?  In the Hebrews passage it reminds us that if we know the Word of the Lord, should not ignore it; we must act upon it.  Do you know your mission?  Do you know your purpose? Has the Lord laid something upon your heart today?  Then do it.  Do not delay.  Let nothing keep you from what the Lord had placed you here to do.  John was faithful to who God had called him to be.  Are we faithful to who God has called each of us to be?  It is in that faithfulness we find our purpose, our mission, our life.    

Monday, January 9, 2006

Epiphany: Monday, January 9

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 2:4-25

In this section we see a retelling of creation, but from a different perspective. In chapter one, God breathes everything into life merely by speaking. It goes into great detail each day, what was created, and give a picture of an almighty, powerful God.

Chapter 2 tells about creation from a different perspective. In Chapter 2 God is focused not on all the universe, but instead on humans. Chapter 1 shows the almighty side of God, Chapter 2 shows the person. He is both. He is the God that spoke everything that is into being. He is the God that sits upon the throne today. But, He is also the God that created Adam and said, it's not good for man to be alone. Chapters 1 and 2 show us who God is. He is a God that is at the same time Almighty and all powerful, yet at the same personal and all knowing. He is a God that created each of us, and He is a God that wants to know each of us, on a person an individual level. The God of creation desires to know me and you. That's pretty awesome.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 1:1-15

Much of the book of Hebrews is about proving the superiority of Jesus Christ; showing that He is greater than angels or prophets or anything else in all creation. These folk were placing their faith in things other than Jesus. For instance, in this text, many of the readers were thinking that angels were superior to Jesus. So, the text speaks to that and proves that Jesus is above angels. He is above all things. He is the one be worshiped. No thing or no one else to be placed about Jesus Christ in our lives. Not our job, our hobbies, our money, anything. Jesus must be first in our lives, for He is first in creation. They had placed other things ahead of Jesus. We should no make the same mistake.

Gospel Lesson

John 1:1-18

Verses 12-13 say, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." In Jesus day, your birth determined everything. If you were born to a carpenter, you were a carpenter, if you were born to a priest, you were a priest. Birth was everything. Even with religion. Today, John says that Jesus was sent not to save those born to the right family, but to save all those that believe. Who we were born to doesn't matter. Our faith in Him does. Just because we were born to saintly family does not assure out entrance into heaven, and likewise, if we were born to a family that never darkened the doors a church, we cannot lay blame upon them. All that believe in his name can become Children of God. Belief. That's what maters this morning. We are saved by grace through faith, so that no one can boast. We cannot boast in our own goodness, only cling to the grace of Jesus Christ. If you boast today, boast not of your own goodness, but instead boast of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 6, 2006

The Book of Daniel and Church Growth

Some of you may have heard about The Book of Daniel, a new show about a priest who has variety of wacky family problems such as a gay Republican son, another son that is sex crazy, plus his own addiction issues. Oh the hilarity! One of the interesting comments I've read is some in the Episcopal Church feel like this will be a great advertisement for their church, showing a tolerant church that is open. That is an interesting point, but for many of us in the "mainline" we've been trying slogans and advertisement for many years, with only declining numbers to show for it.

Now, this is not a knock against advertisement or appealing to culture. We must be out the and present in our culture. But, for far too long we have stood for nothing at all, and folks want substance. They may turn to spirituality or snazzy slogans at times, but all of us want at the end of the day a purpose. That is one reason why The Purpose Driven Life has been so popular; it promises purpose a purpose for your life, plus it will help you find is.

Now, what does this rant have to do with church growth? We in the church sometimes "borrow" things from culture very effectivly. After all Charles Wesley used popular English song for the tunes for many of his hymns. But, sometimes we borrow the wrong stuff.

Growth will not come through TV shows or commercials or webpages, not that these are bad. The church I pastor has a webpage, and you are reading this on my blog! But, you don't become committed to church because of a website, you become committed to church because of Jesus Christ. As great as The Passion was and Narnia is, have they resulted in an increase in church attendance? Probably not much, if all.

But, what about a church where Christ is proclaimed and conversion takes place? That's a church that grows, whether they are on TV or not. Now that is easier said than done, believe me. But, it is not you or I that does this work, it is the Holy Spirit. We just need to get out of the way and allow the Spirit to work.

In short, will the Book of Daniel bring thousands of folks to Episcopal churches this Sunday? I doubt it. But, Jesus Christ will. I have a good friend that is a priest at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Collierville, TN. They are church that has grown and been in effective ministry. How? By proclaiming Jesus, and enabling folks through the Spirit to know conversion, salvation, and holiness. That's the purpose of the church. That's it, that's the list.

I wonder if they would have a Holy Roller Coaster Ride

Some of us in seminary used to jokingly call Megachurches either Fort God or 6 Flags over Jesus. Who knew that 6 Flags over Jesus might become a reality? I guess if you go to church for entertainment only,this my be the way to go. I wonder if it will be contempary or traditional worship?

Epiphany: January 6

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 49:1-7

There is a danger in thinking that we are the only Christians in the world, and that everyone must be like us. Every Christian must a Methodist from Mississippi or Baptist from Tennessee or whatever we are wherever we are. Today, the Lord says that His servant will be a light to Gentiles and will bring His salvation across the earth. One of the things about God is sometimes, quite often in fact, He will put us in places we aren’t comfortable. He may place us among people we don’t like or that we disagree with. We may go through things we don’t enjoy; sickness, loss, hurt, these type things that make us uncomfortable. Why? One reason is that these times cause us to grow. We don’t always grow when everything is fine and dandy, but in times of trial, we learn to depend on Him. So, today, our command is not to stay where we are comfortable, but instead to go, to all the ends of the world, bringing this salvation. That may mean people we don’t like or want to like; but we are commanded to go. We are not commanded to stay in our comfort zone; we are commanded to go.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 21:22-27

Once again we see that the “nations” will walk in the light in the eternal kingdom. Most every Sunday, in the Methodist church, we do the Apostle’s Creed, and there’s a line in it that give pause to a lot of people, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy catholic church. . .” Not the Holy Spirit part, but the catholic church part. That creed is not talking about a denomination, but rather, it is talking about THE CHURCH. It is talking about the one that is made up not of Methodista or Baptists or Roman Catholics or Pentecostals or any other denomination. It is talking about the Body of Christ that is made up of all that believe. We are part or a bigger whole. We are part of a church that is more than just our local congregation, more than just our denomination, more than just those that are here in America. We are part of a body that’s membership is open to all that believe. One day in heaven, there will be no Temple, for the Lord will walk among us, and
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it
So God’s Word Promises.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 2:1-12

Finally, the day we’ve all been waiting for is here. Today is Epiphany, the day we remember the coming of the wise men. My poor people at Coy and before them my poor people at Boyle, Linn, and Litton Methodist churches had to listen to me every year say, “you know the wise men didn’t get there till later, so you really don’t need to have your wise men out.” Every year, my poor wife has to put up with my threats to hide her wise men if they get too close to the manger scene before today. Today is the 12th day of Christmas, Epiphany, the day the wise men get here. They come bearing gifts, but they come with something greater than just gifts. They come to worship the Lord. They travel far distance, they went through much to get there, and would go through a lot to get home. What sacrifice they made merely to worship the king. Imagine if we had to go through all they went through to worship Jesus. How many of us would do that? And, they came as Gentiles. That is what is most significant about them. They represent you and me. They represent the world. As the other texts today point out, our faith is open to all that believe. We are not a genetic faith. Just because your parents believe doesn’t mean that you believe. There’s an old saying, God doesn’t have grandchildren, just children. We must all believe. The wise men believe, and they came to worship. That is what Jesus asks of us today; believe in Him, and the desire to follow Him. They were lead by a star; we are lead by the Holy Spirit. But the command is the same. Follow the one that was born to save the world.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Christmas: January 6

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 2:2-9

Jonah prayed this prayer while in the belly of the fish. He prayed that he knew the Lord would deliver him and that salvation would spring forth. His prayer is a retelling of his story until now, he had forgotten the Lord, but in the midst of the pit, he suddenly remembered. And then, he prayed, and he knew the Lord would save him. How often do we wait until we are in the pit and then say, oh, yeah, what about God? So often, prayer I is the last thing on our list instead of the first. So often we wait until we feel like we have out run the outstretched arm of God and then we hit our knees. Jonah wound up in the belly of a fish because he wanted it his way and did not see the Lord’s face, but instead ran. Do we have the wind up in the belly of the fish before we will remember to pray?

New Testament Lesson

This is on of my favorite passages: The Armor of God. I’ve preached sermon after sermon about it. I’ll just make this one point. There is a spiritual war going one around us. There are forces of evil that are work against the Church and against God’s people. I know that may sound old fashion, but is true. Do we take that seriously? Do we put on the thing that God has given us to fight this fight? So often in sports, if one team really doesn’t want to play the game, but the other one does, it’s the team that plays the hardest and works the hardest that wins. If we approach life and spiritual matters like they are no big deal; we will be defeated. Do we take seriously the role of the evil and demonic forces working against us? CS Lewis said (this is a bad paraphrase) there were two opposite and equal problems with the devil. One is to see the devil everywhere and become obsessed, the other is to see the devil nowhere the foolishly believe that he does not exist. Do you take seriously the power of evil, not just in the world, but in your won life? The Word says do not give the devil a foothold. One way to keep him out is to put on the armor of God.

Gospel Lesson

John 11:17-27; 38-44

The grave could not hold back the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is stronger than death. I read a quote yesterday where someone asked, “Is there life after death?” There teacher responded, the correct question is, “Is there life before death.” Will you wait until you death bed to realize all the life you could have lived now? So often we wait and wait and wait to begin living. Jesus Christ has conquered death. Has He conquered you life?

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Christmas: January 4

Old Testament Lesson

Joshua 3:14-4:7

One of the things I love best about the Old Testament is that when God does something amazing, the people are always told to put up and alter or lay some stones some where. And when their children ask, why are there stones in the middle of the road, they can tell them about the mighty things that God has done. We need to remember what great things God has done for us. We re to place stones in our lives that call us to remember. We need to have markers in our lives so that we can remember what God has done for us and we can tell our children and grand children about how awesome God is. We cannot forget. That is why it is important for us to have rituals. One of the things in ministry that gives me the most joy is hearing a child say the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostle’s Creed. Because for that child, they have just built a stone in their life that will call them to remember. They will know that throughout their lives and it will call them to remember how good God is to them. Do you remember today? What to you have in your life that calls you to remember how good God has been to you?

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 5:1-20

There is a sense of urgency to Paul in this text. We are to wake up! We are to watch! We are to be active, do our part. Christianity is not a passive thing; it is an active one. Faith is not something we have just by sitting a pew. Holiness is not obtained just by wanting it. We have to do our part to be where God wants us to be. Now, God can even use our mistakes, if we will allow. But, we must be active. We must wake up and look around. What sin is there, just below the surface? Get rid of it. Time is of the essence. Every minute we waste is a minute that we could use for God. But, first we have to want to be used by God. And that means truly having faith, truly giving Him control of your life, not just thinking that you’d like to do it one do. Do not confuse you desire to one day have faith with actually faith. Wanting it is not enough. We must awake! Arise! Seek after God.

Gospel Lesson

John 9:1-12; 35-38

The blind man, whose fault was it? Was he blind out of his own sin, or the sin of his parents? Jesus says neither. He was merely blind and Jesus was going to use him to show the glory and power of God. God can use anything. While this man didn’t do anything to cause his own blindness, God will use it. Not everything bad that happens to us is because of our sin. If I’m sitting in my house right now and the roof falls in on me, is that because of my sin? No. But, if I go out, rob a bank, and go to jail, is that because of my sin? Yes. Not everything that happens is because of something that we’ve done either good or bad. But God can use everything that happens to us, good or bad. Everything, God can use. We just have to let him. In Romans 8 it says that all things work to the good of those that love God and are called according to his purpose. All things can be used for God. Even sickness. Even failure. Even tragedy. Even pain. Even loss. All things can work to the good of those that love God. We just have to allow His grace to work in our lives. He cannot work if our hearts are hard. Will you allow Him to work in you today? Will you say yes to His grace in whatever way it is made known to you today? He has something amazing in store for us; we just have to let Him work.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

You think he'd call 911?

He's thinking, if you fall over, I will try to eat you.
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He was really calling out for pizza

Not to say that the media is making things up, but all of us that own a cat know that there is no way this is true.

What Greg will Blog?

I wonder if Greg will post about how this basketball game turned out?

Christmas: December 3

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 19: 9-18

Today, we see God speak to Elijah. Elijah had run away, afraid, and today, God speaks to him. God doesn’t speak in the mighty wind or fire, but instead in a still small voice. The only thing about a still small voice is that it is easy to miss. We want God to shout at us. We want God to hit us over the head. Sometimes He will. But a lot of the time, He will not. We have to listen for His whisper. That means we must quiet ourselves. We must be still with Him. We must stop our racing minds and forget about what is next on our schedule and focus on Him. Focus on Him. Take time to listen. When you pray, do you stop talking at all? Do you stop and listen? Remember, prayer is a two way conversation. God will speak to us, but we must listen. If we don’t listen, we won’t hear what He is saying.

God also tells Elijah that he is not the only one that is faithful. In fact, God has 7000 that are faithful that Elijah doesn’t even know about. You are not the last Christian in the world. It may seem like that at times, but God has stuff going on that your mind can’t even realize. One of my professors used to say, “Never think that you’re God’s last hope.” God is bigger than you and me, and His plans are bigger than you me. The great thing is that He wants to use you and me in these plans.

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 4: 17-32

The people in the text had hardened their hearts to God and once they were hard, they could not feel the truest joy, which comes from God. So, instead, they seek it other places. But, they lost their sensitive hearts and they could not feel joy at all. So, they tried other things to feel what they had lost. They indulged in sin, hoping to remember what it was like to feel alive, but they could not. Their hearts were too hard. Until our hearts are sensitive to God, soft to His touch, we will not be alive. We will not feel anything at all. We will be cold. We will be empty. We may try to receive joy through work, sex, money, lust, hobbies, or whatever feels your time. But, until are hearts are sensitive to God, we will not know true joy or true life.

Paul says we must get rid of the old life; those that steal must steal no longer. As Christians are to be made knew. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but if we are Christians and we are not different than we used to be, or are not different than the world, what does that say about us. We are a called to be different. We must put aside the ways of the past, the things that we “used” to do, and see God. We must live in the newness of His grace.

Gospel Lesson

John 6: 15-27

Once again the crowd follows Jesus not because of the spiritual, but because of the physical. They had been fed, and when they could not find him the next day, they went looking for him. But, He calls them on it. He tells them to seek after that which is eternal, not that which is perishable. How much time do we spend seeking the things of God? How much time we spend seeking the things of this world? Where are our priorities? We will not know the mind of God until we seek it. We will not know the full extent of God’s love for us until we seek it. We will not know the command and mission from God until we seek it. You can’t swim until you get in the deep. We have to wade out deep with God to know God fully. We can’t stay in the shallow the entire time and think that we are swimming. For us to know God, we have to really seek Him. Wanting to is not enough. We must really do it: spend time in the Word, spend time in prayer, spend time with God’s children. Why do we seek Him today, or do we even seek Him at all?

Monday, January 2, 2006

Tony Dungy and Faith

We have in the past two weeks have seen a man's soul exposed to the world in a way that I hope none of us ever have to go through. Tony Dungy is the coach of the Colts and is a Christian, and in the grief of losing a son to suicide has managed to give witness to his faith. In this article, Peter King talks about why Dungy was coaching this past week:

"He said that if he was to be a man of his convictions -- and his convictions are those of a man of God, he could not wallow in his sorrow; he needed to get back to work. If, as he believes, his son is in heaven with his God, then that is something to be celebrated, and Tony wouldn't be doing his duty as a Christian to remain house-bound, mourning. "I had to make a statement as a Christian,'' Dungy said.”As tough as it is, and I discussed it with my wife, I've got to be able to move on.''"
Later in the same article is talking about how he can stay so positive while in the midst of this:

"The Lord's giving me an opportunity to show what my life is about,'' he said. "If I can only show my best foot forward in the good times, then I'm not a very good man.''

That is the most amazing thing I have read after the death of a loved one. We all believe that. We may even think it, and we preachers preach it. But, to hear someone say this, and truly believe it, in the midst of their grief is world changing.

That is what Christianity offers. It is not a bed of roses. It will be hard. As the Lord said, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. This is the kind of faith that can heal the broken. This is the kind of faith that can restore and bring life. This is the kind of faith that can change our world. This is the kind of faith that God offers and we need.

And if we believe in God, really believe in God, we can change our world. This kind of faith can't be contained. Life springs forth, life from death, laughter from tears, salvation.

Do we believe like this? Wow, what grace the Lord longs to give us.

Christmas: December 3

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 19: 1-9

I love Elijah. He is my favorite person (besides Jesus) in all the Bible. Why do I like him? I relate to him better than any one in the Bible. He will do something great for God, and then he will run like a scared dog. He will be afraid. He will be worried, he will fall. Yet, God uses him. God uses him in some might ways, in spite of his failings. In the text for today, he runs because Jezebel has just threatened his life. In passage before this, he faces down hundreds of false prophets by himself, and through the power of God, he wins. 1 against 400, and through God he wins. How awesome is that? And now, one person says, I’ll kill you, and he runs. He goes from totally trusting in God to in a matter of minutes doubting and running. How many of us have moments of great confidence in God, moments where we see God so clearly, moments where God uses us in amazing ways, and then 2 seconds later we doubt and we run. That is what Elijah would do. And God used him. God spoke to him. He was among the greatest of the prophets. God’s grace was stronger than his weakness. So is it for us today. God’s grace is stronger than your weakness, you frailty, and even your sin. If you will just give Him control and let Him use you. His grace can do amazing things.

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 4: 1-16

For Paul, we matter, we are important, we have gifts and graces. But the most important thing that these gifts and grace are for is for the building up of the body of Christ. He tells us to be humble and bear one another in peace. We are to as the body of Christ give strength to each other, but so often we do not. I’ve heard it put this way; the Christian army is the only army that shoots its wounded. Do we bind of each other’s wounds, or do we judge and look down on each other?

In the text it says that God has given us each grace and gifts. We don’t all have the same gifts or the same calling. Being a preacher is not the only way to serve God. I think in many ways, lay folk have more impact than we preachers do, because you are such an example in your workplace, or you can be, if you will allow God to work through you. What gifts has He given you? What ability has He given you? What calling has He given you? For, He has given you and everyone a calling and gifts. Are you using yours today?

Gospel Lesson

John 6: 1-14

Two things stuck out to me in this text. First, the people only followed because Jesus was doing miracles. They didn’t follow out of love or devotion; they followed because He was doing cool things. Why do we follow? Do we follow out of devotion, or do we follow because if we think if we are good enough, God will do what we want Him to? If I just pray, then God will “grant my wish.” The crowd followed because he was doing miracles. The disciples followed because they loved him. There were always two groups that followed Jesus, the crowds and the disciples. Which group are we in today? Do we follow for miracles, or do we follow because we love him.

The second thing that stuck out to me was Andrew speaking up. This was a huge crowd, and they had no way to feed them. It would take 8 months pay to feed them all. But, Andrew said, I’ve got a little bit, will that help? He didn’t offer enough to solve the problem, he offered enough to help. But, he offered it to Jesus. He was faithful. All Jesus asks of you and me is that we be faithful. We can’t solve all the world’s problems. All we can do is offer what we have. And then Jesus will bless it and do great things. Andrew offered some loaves and fish and Jesus feed a huge crowd. Will you offer to Him what you have today? If you do, if you offer him all that you are, no matter how little you may think that is, He will do great things.