Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Samuel 3:22-39

One of my coaches at Bogue Chitto High school shared with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes a powerful message that still echoes in my ear to this day. Coach Micky Myers told us that our lives may be the only Bible that some people ever read. The way that we act, the way that we live, the way that live our lives can and will affect others.

Today, David mourned the life of someone that at one point was his enemy. He didn't have to mourn is such a manner, but it was the right thing to do. And, in doing the right thing, it made an impact upon all around him. Sometimes in life, the most important thing that we can do is to simply do what is right. That is what David did in the text, and that is what we called to do in all of life.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 16:16-24

We see what greed does in this text. The people were not worried that this person was plagued by this spirit and they were not happy that she was set free. Their only concern was that they had lost a source of income. Greed causes us to place other things, be it money, power, whatever over other people. And when we place value on stuff over people, or over our walk with God that leads to so many problems in our lives. They were not worried about this young girls life; they were only worried about what they could get. May we never fall into such a trap.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 6:47-56

One thing we always see about Jesus is that people were drawn to Him. Those that were sick. Those that were in need. Those that were lost. Those that were sinful. Those that were broken. Those that needed grace. They were drawn to Jesus.

That is what Jesus does. He draws people to Himself. That is what He wants to use us for; to draw others to Him. Does He shine through in our lives so that it can happen? Is our life so full of grace that folks are just drawn not to us, but Jesus in us? That is what He can do. May we know His grace and in that knowledge. may people draw to Him through Him working in us.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Samuel 3:6-21

One of the concepts we see over and over again in the Old Testament in that notion of promise. God had promised to David the kingdom and promised that he was have an everlasting impact. When David was hiding from Saul in a cave, God's promise didn't look so good. Likewise, when David's side is fighting against Saul's side, that promise didn't look to good.

But, God's promises cannot be stopped. God will be true to His word. He will do what He said He will do. And, what is that? He will never leave nor forsake us. He does not promise us that we will not have troubles (in fact, He kind of promises that trouble will come). But, He does promise that when the trouble comes, He will be there with us. In the storm, He will be there. In the fire, He will be there. In all of life, He will be there.

He promised David the kingdom. We see that promise beginning to come to pass in this text. In all of our lives, if we look, we can see His promises starting to come to pass.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 16:6-15

God's plan is not always easy to understand. We see Paul travel to certain places today, and the Spirit not lead them to speak. We see them go some where and instead of preaching, they pass on by. Why?

It was not time. Things were not right. Maybe the people there were not ready to hear the Gospel. Maybe Paul wasn't who they needed to hear. Maybe it was just not in God's time in that moment. We don't know.

But, Paul was wise enough to listen to the Spirit and do what the Lord led. Even if it might not have made sense. Today, let's listen to the Spirit, and let's do what He leads us to do, even if it doesn't make sense. For, if we are following God, He will lead us to where we need to be, even if we don't know the way. Paul listened, and was led to Lydia. Today, who and where will the Lord lead us to?

Gospel Lesson

Mark 6:30-46

We see two great truths in this passage. First, we must take care of ourselves. Jesus told them to go and rest for a while. We need time to rest. We need time to pray. We need time to recharge ourselves. If we don't take care of ourselves, then we will no good to anyone.

And, we must take care of others. Jesus saw the crowd hungry, and He feed them. We take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. Are we doing those things? Are we taking care of ourselves? Are we praying and reading and resting and working? Are taking care of others? Their physical needs? Their spiritual needs?

Today, may we take time for ourselves. May we also take time for others.

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 30, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Samuel 2:1-11

One of the things that is most impressive about David is the fact that he tried to do right by everyone. He could have killed Saul, and no one would have thought anything about it. Instead, he refused, for Saul was still king. Today, we see him give a blessing to those that had buried Saul after Saul had been killed. He didn't have to do that; after all, in many ways, Saul was his enemy.

But, he still wanted Saul to be paid the respect he was due. In the UM Book of Disciple, there is one of my favorite phrases. It says that everyone is of a sacred worth. Isn't that a great phrase? A sacred worth. There is no one worthless, there is no one that is without value. Even Saul. Even those we do not particularly care for. Even those that try to bring us harm. Everyone is of a scared worth.

Even you and me. We are priceless in the eyes of God.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 15:36-16:5

We see Barnabas once again put faith in someone that no one else did. Remember, he was the one that went to Paul when no one else trusted him. Today, we see him take Mark under his wing. Even though Mark had failed before. Even though Mark had abandoned them before. Barnabas did not give up on him. He saw the potential there in Mark to do great things. He saw who Mark could be. And, he knew that all Mark needed was someone to believe in him.

In short, he knew that Mark was of a sacred worth.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 6:14-29

Herod was a bad guy, for many reasons (even though you could rightly say even he, bless his heart, was of a sacred worth). In this text today we see one of his main faults. He put his pride ahead of doing what is right. He didn't want to have to kill John. That's a terrible thing to have someone murdered. He didn't want to, he knew it was wrong.

But he also didn't want to lose face with the crowd. He cared more about what the crowd thought than he did about doing what was right. May we not fall into the same trap. May we be more focused on doing what is right, instead of focusing on what other folks think.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, July 26, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 28:3-20

It begins to crumble all around Saul at this point. He has done right in banning mediums from the kingdom, but now he feels cut off from everyone and everything, and as a last resort, he turns to something that he knows is wrong, but he hopes will give him the answers he wants.

I really feel sorry for Saul at this point. Bless his heart. He is trapped and he has no hope. And, his story is coming to a soon end. And, it all began to spiral down when he did not do that which the Lord commanded. That point A led to this point B. We never fully know the consequences of our actions. If Saul knew his disobedience what have lead to this, surely he would not have disobeyed. But, he did not.

Choices, decisions, all these things in life have far reaching consequences. May we choose wisely, and may we do the things that will bring life in all that we do.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 15:1-11

Peter was respected by everyone. After all, he was Peter! And at this critical moment when literally the future of the church was being decided, he stands to speak. And he does say, I think. . . . or I feel. . . . .or I anything. He says basically that God is moving. And if God is moving, who are we to interfere. Even if we don't like it, or even understand it. If God is moving, let do what we can to help.

That's one of the great things about church. We might not understand or even like everything that happens in church, but if God is moving, that's a good thing! If people are growing, that's a good thing! If good is being done, that's a good thing! So, lets find where God is moving, and lets join in! And in that, together, we can all do some great things!

Gospel Lesson

Mark 5:1-20

What a concept in this passage. Jesus does something great for this man, by casting out the demons, and you know what he does? He goes and tells everyone! He goes and tells everyone about the great thing Jesus has done for him. Friends, that is the Christian life in short. God has done something awesome for us. We are called to go and tell others.

Tell them with our words. Tell them with our actions. Tell them with our love. Tell them with our very lives. God has done so very much for us. May our lives be an act of conversation, telling others about our God.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 25:23-44

We see in this passage that Abigail took that step out on faith and it saved her life. And, at that point, it spared the life of Nabal. One of the things in life we have to do at times is to take that step of faith. Abigail did not know how David would react. She didn't know how this would all play out in the end. But, she did what she felt like was the best, what she felt lead to do, and she step out on faith.

Doing that is scary. It is frightening to step out on faith. But, it is also where we can most learn to trust. So much of life is lived out on the edge. If you are lead to that edge of faith, and lead to step out on faith, do it. The Lord will catch you!

New Testament Lesson

Acts 14:19-28

We see Paul face great sufferings for the sake of the Gospel. Sometimes, the road will be hard. Sometimes we will face things that we don't understand. Sometimes we will even face opposition over things that we know are right. But, in these moments of trouble, remember that God is good and His strength will be there when we need it. If you are on a hard road this morning, don't lose hope! God is still there, He will still be there no matter want comes. Paul didn't keep pushing because he liked being stoned and beaten. He kept pushing because He knew the good news of the Gospel and the hope it can bring to all that hear it!

Today, keep walking. The Lord will be there.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 4:35-41

I love what the disciples say to Jesus here. Do you not care that we will perish? They were so afraid of the storm, they felt like Jesus didn't care if they lived or died. The felt like He had thrown them to the wolves; that there would surly meet there end in this sea on that boat. They we so afraid they they had felt like Jesus was going to just let them drown.

That's fear. And, while we may not have been there like that, at some point we have all thought the same thing. Do you not care if I drown? Do you not care if the sickness is too much? The pain? The loss? The hurt?

How did Jesus respond in this text? Peace. How does He respond to us? Peace. Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He calms our raging hearts. But, in both cases, He will not let us drown. And, He does care.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 25:1-22

One of the best sermon's I've ever heard was preached about reaping what you so. The preacher said that many of us sow discord or hate or whatever, and then we pray for rain. For if it rains, we won't have to reap what we have sown. But, it will not rain forever. There will come a time when we reap what we so. In this text today, Nabal didn't sow anything good. He caused trouble towards David for no reason. He sowed disagreement, he sowed jealousy, he sowed general dislike. David was coming to reap what what he sowed.

But, grace interfered. Grace is sometimes not receiving what we deserve. Did Nabal deserve what was coming to him? Probably. But, his wife had the good sense to go and make a peace offering. It isn't always easy to do the right thing, but results of it will be better in the end. If we so grace, we will reap grace. If we sow forgiveness, we will reap forgiveness. If we so love, we will reap love. If we sow what is good, we will reap what is good.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 14:1-18

One of the mistakes that we can make sometimes is that we fall in love with the gift instead of the giver of the gift. Even great singer should be praised for that remarkable talent, but God should be praised all the more for He is the one that gave that gift. Every hard worker should be praised for their work ethic and strength, but God should be praised all the more for He is the one that gave the health to work.

Today, Paul and Barnabas heal someone, and the people want to praise them as gods. Paul says, no they are mere mortals, it is God Almighty that deserves the praise. He was quick to give credit where credit is due. Today, may we thank God for every good gift and talent that we have, that our church has; and let us remember that it is through Him that we have these good things.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 4:21-34

One thing I love about the parables is that Jesus often compares great things to something common. The kingdom of God is like mustard seed. Not many of us understand the kingdom of God. But, we all understand a mustard seed. In this, Jesus shows us that greatness is not just found in the great and mighty, but in the common, in the small, in the everyday. Everyday, we can find God. Everyday, we can see what He is doing. Everyday, we can find, see, and receive His grace.

Even in the common and the ordinary, like a mustard seed, we can find the grace of God.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 23, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 24:1-22

We see in this passage David do right by Saul when there was no earthly reason to so do. After all, multiple times, Saul had tried to kill David. David could have killed Saul and no one would have batted and eye. And, David is a solider. This would not have been the first time he would have killed someone, no would it have been the last.

But, it was not right. And David tried to do in his life what was right. Did he always succeed in doing right? No, he failed at time. But, when he earnestly tried to do the right thing and live in a way that would please God. He is called a man after God's own heart. He was not perfect, and the Bible will show us his failures. But, in this instance, and in most of his life he tried to do what was right.

Today, we are not perfect. But, when given a choice between good and evil, right and wrong, let us rely upon God. Let us strive to be like David and chase after what God would have us to do.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 13:44-52

One of the things we see quite often in Acts is the virtue of courage. That is one that we don't talk about sometimes. We talk about love and strength and peace and those wonderful things. But, courage is a virtue as much as any of these, and it is something that the Christan needs, as much as any of these.

Courage to fight against evil. Courage to do what is right. Courage to go against culture. Courage to be who God has called us to be. Today, may we be men and women of courage, unafraid of what is to come. For, whatever it is, we know that the Lord is bigger and stronger.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 4:1-20

We see in this parable that the Word will be sown. The Lord will cast out His word in all of life. We will encounter His word in the Bible. In Church. In so many different ways. In as many ways as their is to hear or see; we will encounter His word.

The question then becomes, what will we do with it? What type of soil will we be? Will we be the good soil that will respond to the Word given us? Or will we not allow it to take root?

Today, may we be good dirt. May we open our ears and eyes to listen and see what God has for us in this day, and in this week! Know that He wants to speak to us. May we listen.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, July 19, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 20:24-42

The story of David and Jonathon show us the power of friendship, the power of loyalty, and the power of doing what is remember. The only chance Jonathon had to be king would be if he were to follow his dad. If David were king, that would change line. So, if Jonathon were thinking only of himself or of power, there is no way he would have wanted to spare David. He would have been working with his father to destroy him.

But, David was his friend. That meant more to Jonathon than any type of power. In life, if have a friend that we are willing to stick by, even to the detriment of our ourselves, then that is a good life, and that is a good friend. We should all pray that we have a friend so close. And that type of friendship comes only through God.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 13:1-12

As good United Methodists, this is one of the passages where we get the biblical foundation for the appointment process. Paul and Barnabas didn't say in this passage that they felt called to a certain place, the church placed hands upon them and "sent them out." Now, there was no Bishop, no DS, none of the things that we associate with the appointment process in the UMC, but this where we get the Biblical notion for the church "sending" out the preachers to the place where the church feels like they can be most effective.

Is it the only system with a biblical justification? No, but this a passage where Methodists can say, that is where we get the idea of sending out preachers from.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 2:23-3:6

Notice the teachers where not hoping Jesus would do good so that good would be done; they wanted to accuse Him. They were already looking for something to hurl against Him. They wanted to trip Him up. In life, do we look for the positive others are doing? Or do we focus only the negative? Do we only want to see what others are doing wrong? Those that opposed Jesus would not turn to Him partly because they already had their minds made up about Him.

Let us be careful in life not to make up our minds before we meet someone. They missed Jesus because of this. They missed the very presence of God because of this. Who knows what we could miss ourselves.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Column in the Paper

You can click here to read my first (!) column in our newspaper in Ripley, the Southern Sentinel. It shows how desperate we must be for news in Ripley!

Ordinary Time; Wednesday, July 18, 2007

We are home, Thomas is doing well. He ran fever last night, but seems to be fine this morning. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 20:1-23

CS Lewis wrote that the love in life that is most unappreciated is the between friends. Think about in your life, how it has always been your friends, and probably certain ones at certain times that were there for you when you needed them. We see that in this passage between David and Jonathon. Even through his father was trying to kill David, Jonathon remained true to his friend.

Friends bring us love, support, help, lots of things. We could not make it with out family, but likewise, we could not make it without friends. And you know the old saying, to have a friend, you must be a friend.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 12:18-25

One thing we see constantly in Acts was that everything was not a bed of roses. The Apostles were working hard to spread the good news, but there were always people and forces working against them. The Lord never promised it would always be easy. He never told us that we would not face opposition. He never told us that we would not grow weary or tired.

He did promise that He would never leave nor forsake us. He did promise that even in the midst of problems, He would make a way. He did promise that we were the sheep of His pasture. Today, don't focus on the things that are working against what God would have you to do. Focus on God.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 2:13-22

We see Jesus show us that if we want to bring the good news to those that are in need; we have to be willing to meet them where they are. He took the Gospel to Matthew, and to Matthew's home. He knew what most important was that Matthew hear this good news of salvation, and He was willing to go and do whatever it took.

Because Matthew was willing to hear. Jesus didn't go home and eat with everyone. He let the rich young ruler walk away. But, He knew Matthew was ready. He was able to listen to His Father, and know which way to go. May we have the gift of discernment so that we know which way to go as well.

Monday, July 16, 2007

No Blogging Tomorrow

There will be no blogging tomorrow. Our son Thomas is going to have to have a small surgery tomorrow at University Hospital in Jackson. It shouldn't be a big deal, but we have to go down tonight to Jackson and be there early tomorrow. Everything should be back to normal Wednesday, though. I hope you each have a great day today and tomorrow. Talk to you Wednesday!

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 16, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Sam 18:5-16, 27b-30

Jealousy is a very dangerous thing. We see it here begin to eat away at Saul. There is nothing wrong with respect or admiration. There are all folks we think, I'd like to be like them. But, what Saul had towards David wasn't that. He envied David, and envied David's walk with the Lord. He was jealous of all that David was, and that envy turned to a murderous rage. And, it eventually helped to destroy Saul.

Let us be careful that we do not envy others, or what they they have. It will consume us, it will destroy us. The Lord knew that and placed it in the Ten Commandments, for envy will eat at us and eventually destroy us.

Gospel Lesson

Acts 11:19-30

One of the things that we see in Acts is that as Christians face persecution, they leave Jerusalem and go to other places. In doing that, the Gospel is spread to these other places. Is persecution a good thing? No, but God can use that. There is nothing that God cannot use for some good purpose or good thing. Here He used the persecution the church faced for that.

No matter what you are going through in your life now, God can use it for good. You may not see or understand now, but one day, through His grace, you will see the good He is trying to work right now.

New Testament Lesson

Mark 1:29-45

In the beginning of this passage we see Jesus perform miracles. In the end of this passage we see Jesus perform miracles. What happens in the middle? What happens at the center of the story? Jesus arises early to pray. He knew who He was and what He was called to do. He knew the only way that He could be and do what He should was through always, always being in communion and relationship with His Father through prayer.

We know what we are do, we know who we are to be. How can we hope to do it without prayer? May we be a praying people.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, July 12, 2007

I accidentally read today's passages yesterday, so today, you get yesterdays!

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Its a good thing the Lord was picking and not Samuel, because if not, the wrong guy would have been picked. David had nothing to him to make him look like he should be king. But, he had the heart for God. He had the heart for the calling. He had the heart for trusting in what God could do.

Remember it is not always the biggest or the strongest that God will use. He will use the willing. Today, don't look at what you are or you aren't. Look and and see if you are willing. If so, God will use you.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 10:1-6

We see here a man God uses. He was a Gentile, he was faithful, and God used him for something mighty in the next passage. But, just like looking at David, you wouldn't think he would be the one that God would use. Surly a priest, or someone powerful in the eyes of others. But a Centurion? A Roman solider? Surly God could find someone better than that.

But, he was willing, and God used him. That's all it takes to be used by God. Be willing.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 24:12-35

This is that great passage where the two were walking down the road and did not realize that Jesus was in the very midst until the bread was broken. So, as we the children of God break bread within our services of communion, we realize that He is still there, in our midst. We just have to open our eyes, open our ears, open ourselves to Him.

The bread was broken, and the realized the Lord. When we break bread, may we realize as well. But, may it not take the breaking of bread to realize He is with us, for He is with us even now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Please remember the Hellums family in your prayers today.

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 16:14-17:11

We see here that scene in the Bible where music can calm the savage beast. Saul is tormented, but even in this he is able to find some relief. There is, even in the darkest moments, some way that we can find relief and some mercy. No spot is beyond at least a little of God's grace. There is that great passage in Psalm 139 where David writes, where could I go from your presence, even if a make make bed in Sheol, there you are. Even in the darkest moments, God is there, if we can just have the grace to look around.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 10:17-33

In this passage we see how God is working in the lives of different people to bring about His plan. He is always at working, working in ways, and in people, that we don't understand, and can't even see. But, there comes a time when His plan begins to unfold that we say, oh, I see what He is doing there, and there, and there.

And all these different threads start to weave together a beautiful tapestry that only God could make.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 24:36-53

It says here that Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures. It was not that they had not read them before, it was that there minds had not been enlightened to understand what they had to say. We can read, we can hear, we can see. But, if our minds are not open to understand, we will not understand.

That is what Jesus did in this passage for the disciples. May He do the same for us as well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 15:24-35

It is interesting the explanation Saul gives for his sin. He says he feared the people and they would do. We've all been there, right? That's something we call peer pressure. But there is something that is of great importance here. Who should we "fear" more? Others or God. Saul was more afraid of what the people wanted instead of what God wanted.

That is a place we are sometimes caught in. We feel torn between what we know the world wants and what know that God wants. Saul went the wrong way, and it got him in trouble. That's ultimately what sin does. It destroys that relationship between us and God, and between each of us as well. After this, Saul's relationship with God was destroyed, so was his relationships with others. That is ultimately what sin does. It destroys these things.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 9:32-43

We see the main purpose of the miracles that Paul performed today was not so that he could look great or holy, but it was so that people would turn to the Lord. That is the reason for the good that we do. We do good to help those in need. We do good to alleviate suffering, to make life better for those less fortunate, and to give from the blessings that the Lord has given us.

Jesus told us to do our good works before others so that they would praise our Father above. Remember, we are just the vessel. Any good done through us, God deserves ultimate praise. But, how awesome is it that He wants to use us!?! Of all the ways that God could have chosen to change the world, He wants to use us. That is a high calling, and a high praise that we have. Let us live lives worthy of that calling.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 23:56b-24:11

It was at this point some of what Jesus told them began to sink in. We are told here after they are reminded of what Jesus said that they remember. This makes me feel much better. We don't always get what God is trying to say the first time around. We don't always understand what He is doing. Sometimes we aren't listening, or we aren't understanding.

Don't feel too bad. Neither did they. They stayed faithful, they obeyed, even when the didn't understand, and eventually, they understood. We're not going to always understand what God is doing. But, there will come a time in the life of faith when we slap our heads and say, Oh, now I get it! Today, the women understood what He had said. It took the guys a little longer, but eventually they all understood.

One day, so will we all. So, don't lose faith, don't loose hope. If you don't understand or get what God is saying right now, you aren't the first, you won't be the last. Hold fast, you will soon see what He is doing.

Monday, July 9, 2007

UMC Commerical

I know there is some controversy about the effectiveness about the Igniting Ministries campaign within the church, but I really do like this ad. I saw it once, and through the miracle of YouTube, we can all watch it again.

I do like the message though that our faith is more than just an hour on Sunday type of thing.

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 9, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 15:1-3, 7-23

One of the things that is hard for us to get our minds around in the Old Testament is the concept of total or "holy" war. It doesn't make a lot of sense today to us to hear and read about God commanding His people to totally wipe out an enemy. How do we reconcile that with the word of Jesus to love our enemies?

Dr. Steve Parrish, one of my professors in seminary, really helped me to understand this point. He compared the concept of holy war as seen in the Old Testament to an act of worship. Just as worship is what you and I are commanded to do, he believed that the Lord had commanded His people to go to war and for the destruction to be like a burnt sacrifice. Within the burnt sacrifice in the Old Testament, things are supposed to be done the way the Lord commands, and that's it. No exceptions, no variables. You simply offered the sacrifice in the way the Lord commanded.

So, when Saul, or anyone else, did not go to war in the way the Lord commanded, it was in many ways like not offering the correct sacrifice. So, it has helped me to think of this warfare not as we think of warfare today, but rather almost a type of worship that is to be done by the Lords instructions. Saul did not follow what the Lord had commanded. Thus, his kingdom began to fall apart, for he did not obey.

Good lesson for us in that. We aren't at war, but when we do not obey, just like Saul, we tend to get in trouble.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 9:19b-31

Today, we see one of the most important folks in the Bible, but also one that often times does not get the credit he is due. We see Barnabus. Today, when Paul was alone, had no one to turn to, no one trusted him, who came to him? Barnabus. Today, when Paul may have been tempted to say, this is not worth the trouble, who became his friend? Barnabus. It was Barnabus that put his reputation on the line for Paul, it was Barnabus that had to trust in Paul. It was Barnabus that had to take that step of faith.

And because he did, Paul was able to do the things that he did. All because at this critical moment, he had someone that believed in him, someone that was his friend. Today, who can you be a Barnabus to?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 23:44-56a

We see, in this passage, the darkest moment of the Bible. Jesus has been killed, and is buried in a borrowed tomb. He is abandoned by all, save a few, and is placed in this tomb that was not His. Of course, we know how the story turns out, don't we. We know that this moment was not the end, but rather the beginning of this new lief that Jesus offers to all that believe.

Today, even in your darkest moments, know that it does not have the be the end. God has something bigger, something better, someone more alive than you can ever imagine. Have faith in the night, and joy will come in the morning.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rich Mullins Rules!

Here's the video for Creed, one of his best songs, and part of my sermon from last Sunday.

Friday, July 6, 2007

New Church Website

I spent today working on a website for Ripley First. Click here and see what you think. We'll be adding more info as the days go along.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, July 5, 2007

I hope you each had a wonderful Independence Day

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 13:5-18

We see Saul learn the importance of waiting on the Lord in this passage. Sometimes, don't we just wish the Lord would hurry up? That's what Saul is facing here. He feels like his army is slipping away from him, and if he didn't hurry things along, he'd lose them totally. But, the Lord wanted him to wait.

It's hard when our schedule doesn't mesh with His. We want things done a certain way and at a certain time. The Lord has His way and His time. We just have to wait upon that. It is not easy, it is not fun. But, it is for a reason. His ways are not ours, and His time is always the right time. So, if the answer to that prayer is wait, trust in the Lord, and know that His grace will allow you to wait, until the time is right.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 8:26-40

I love what the eunuch says, why there's water, what's to keep me from being baptized? What a great thought! The Lord has lead him to something, he sees a means to do it, and he does it. He doesn't say, well, I should wait. He doesn't say, the water is not nice enough. He doesn't say, I need to get on home. He simply sees a way to do what he is supposed to do, and he does it.

In life, there are times for thought, times for reflection, and times for action. Saul showed us that every time is not the time for action. The eunuch shows us that when it is time, don't delay. Do what the Lord instructs.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 23:13-25

Pilate knew what was right, knew what was correct, even knew what he wanted to do. Yet, he did not have the courage to do it. Andrew Jackson once wrote that "One man with courage makes a majority." Especially when that one man has the power of the Holy Spirit leading him (or her) into what they are supposed to do. Be strong! Be brave! Know that God is with you, and if He calls you to something, He will give you strength to do it! Be brave, you can do it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 11:1-15

There's a great phrase in this text today, "the dread of the Lord." The word says this came over the people, and it caused them to go and do that which they had to do. The dread of the Lord. We dread eating broccoli, or we dread a test. But, the Lord?

I guess that's just another way of saying the fear of the Lord. The holy respect that we should each have for God, simply because He is God, and we are not. As strong as we are, He is stronger. As wise as we are, He is wiser. As powerful as we are, He is more powerful. He is simply God. That should cause us reverence, respect, and maybe, on occasion, a little dread.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 8:1-13

This is the first time we read about this fellow named Saul. He was a pretty tough guy. He was an enforcer. He was going around, stopping the church, putting its leaders in prison, and doing whatever he could to stop the spreading of the Gospel.

Saul. You may also know him by his other name, Paul. If God can save someone even as far from Him as Saul, who can't He save? There is nothing, no one that God cannot redeem. Even Saul, even you and me.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 22:63-71

I was having a conversation with some folks yesterday about Easter and Holy Week. And, we were all agreeing, to understand fully the joy and wonder of Easter, we have to first go through the passion and pain of the cross. While we are not really that close to Easter, we in really are. Every Sunday we gather to celebrate the Resurrection. Every day when we hit our knees and plead forgiveness or grace. Each of moment of our life where we receive God's grace. In these moments, we are close to Easter.

And in those moments, let us remember what our Lord endure so that we could know that grace.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 2, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 10:17-27

We're a little worried about Saul from the very beginning, aren't we? He starts off, and can't even be found. Not the best way to start off leading the people. But, the people had placed their trust in humans above God, and they were given Saul. Someone once said, people get the leaders they deserve, not the leaders they need. Israel needed someone that would lead them to God, that would point them to God, that would be the king they needed. Instead, they got Saul.

The king they needed was coming, though. David would get there soon. But, even in that, it is a little odd. Saul was tall and big, David short and squatty. Saul looked like a king. David didn't. Yet, who was the great king? And who did not trust in the Lord. So, we see that it is the Lord that makes the difference, and He is the one that we must trust. He is the true leader of the people.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 7:44-8:1a

I've preached some sermons before that were not well received, but I've never been stoned like Stephen was. It took courage for him to stand before this crowd and preach the words he preached. And surely he must have know how it would end. But, he did it anyway. Why?

Perhaps he believed that God could change the heart of even the most vocal critic. Perhaps he believed that God could save anyone. Perhaps he believed that he was simply called to do it. Whatever the reason he did. He did what he was called to do. Friends, that is is powerful lesson for us. We called in life not to do everything, but we are called in life to simply do that "thing," whatever it is, that God has called us to do. Stephen did it, and through doing it, many people were brought to the Lord. Today, may we do that "thing," whatever it is, that God has called us to.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 22:52-62

How many of us would love to great like Peter? How many of us would love to his courage, his strength, his leadership? How many of us would love to lead like him and follow Jesus like he did? Most of us would.

Yet, even Peter failed. Three times, he denied knowing Jesus. Three times. Yet, the Lord welcomed him back. Even the great ones fail. We all fail. CS Lewis once said something to the effect of that the sin in life is not in falling down, the sin is in not getting back up. We will each fall, we will each fail. At that moment, may we see that God's grace is there, waiting to pick us back up.