Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thomas' First Birthday

All Hallows Eve: Wendesday, October 31, 2007

A Happy All Hallows Eve (or All Saint's Eve) or Halloween, depending on you perspective and number of children in your house! Today is October 31, and lots of stuff has happened on this day. First, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, thus starting the Protestant Reformation, which lead the way to the eventual formation of all Protestant Churches.

But, All Hollows Eve is also a day of preparation for All Saint's Day, which is tomorrow, and is celebrated in many churches this coming Sunday, where we honor and thank God for the Saints that have gone before and have joined the Lord and all the company of heaven.

And, it's also Halloween. Much like Mardi Gras, this holiday actually has Christan origins, like what was mentioned above. You can find out more about the Christian origins of Halloween and find some neat ways to focus upon our Faith during this day by clicking here.

Today, just a Gospel Lesson

Matthew 13:18-23

Today, what type of dirt are we? Are we ready to hear what the Lord longs to say to use through whatever means He may use? Are we ready to listen? Are we ready to take it in? Are we ready to grow from it? In all the different instances, the same Word was spread about, but the soil was not ready to receive what was there through the word.

Today, are we good gardeners? Are we tending the dirt of our souls? Are we pulling out the weeds that seek to choke off the word? Are we watering our souls through prayer and the word to keep our hearts from becoming hard? Are we offering forgiveness and grace to those that need it, and maybe even to those that don't?

Today, are we letting the word seep down deep into our souls and change who we are? Growing us closer to God? Today, what type of dirt are we? May we be good soil, and may God's word grow deep in our hearts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Good Morning,

Sorry about the lack of blogging yesterday. It was a long weekend with a long Monday, and my day just kind of got a way from me.

This morning, I want to ask you a question for my own guidance with my daily posting. Are they helpful to you? If not, is there any way they could be improved? Is there something that you would like to see instead of what I blog each day?

My blogging started out a couple of years ago as my own personal thoughts on the daily Bible readings for that day, but since then, they've transformed, and my own personal devotional life has changed some as well.

And today I was thinking about how as a pastor do you get people to buy into what God is doing and help them catch the vision that the Spirit may have, and the only what that can happen is through the grace of God working in their lives.

So, as the church, and as a Pastor, I have to do all that I can to allow that to happen. How does that happen? Through what Wesley called the "Means of Grace." Some of these are public: worship, communion, things of the like.

But, some are private: bible study, fasting, prayer. I want my daily posting to be a means of grace to you, something that allows you grow closer to God and deeper into His word.

Is it doing that? If not, how could it better do that? Feel free to comment or email me today or in the coming days with any thoughts. And, I'm not fishing for a compliment. I'm actually more interested in ways in how my daily posting can change and grow.

Thanks for you input.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 25, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Ezra 1:1-11

After much darkness and pain, today, in this passage, we see the sun shine again. We read the pain of Lamentations. We read the prophets saying that destruction was coming. We read bad news after bad news after bad news. Today, we read some good. We see that the rain stops, the wounds are healed, and that life will spring forth from death. The people get to return home! The people get to go back to promised Land! God has not forgotten them. Just as in the Exodus, He is taking His people back to where they need to be. The night is over, and the sun shines again.

Remember, even if it is night in your life right now, God has not forgotten you. The sun will shine again. This too shall pass. God is not done with you yet. The will be joy and peace and comfort that is coming in the morning. Hold on, hold fast, help is on the way. The people returned to the Promised Land. God is still at work. Just as He is still at work in our lives.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 16:1-9

We see Paul giving very important instructions here about something that the church has always done. Taking up the collection! But in this passage, as it is now, the "collection" or "offering" or whatever you prefer to call it, is important. In many ways it is our response to the graciousness of God. He is a God that has given us so much, and in turn, He wants us to give back. Give our time, give our talents, give our gifts, and give our service. In short, give from all that we have.

And yes, that does mean money, but that is not all. That is just part. What God wants from us is something very simple. He wants all of us. He wants all that we are. And, when we give Him all that we are, He gives us something. He give us life more abundant, life grander than we could ever imagine. Today, give yourself away. And, in the giving away of yourself, you find more life than you could ever think possible.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 12:15-21

We see Matthew quoting from the Old Testament this passage, showing that God's plan was always at work. He was making things ready for the coming of His son, for that was His ultimate plan and His ultimate means of salvation for His people. God's plan is always more that you and I can see. It is deeper and it is wider, and it is more than our minds can even understand.

That is why is so important for us to trust. We don't always know what He is doing. We don't always know His plan or see His path. We just have to trust and walk down the road that He has shown us. If we follow the light that He gives us, we will be where we need to be. He is always at work, doing more than we can see. He was making things right for the coming of His Son. The people just had to trust. Just like now, sometimes, we simply have to trust Him when we don't see what He is doing. Thankfully He always sees what He is doing.

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Lamentations 2:8-15

Sometimes in life, things happen that are so tragic that all you can do is weep. You may know in your mind that God is at work and He will bring something good out of it, but in the midst of the storm, all you can do is weep. We see the Prophet look at his destroyed city today, and all he can do is weep. He knows what has caused this, and we will later see that he does have hope for redemption. But, at that point, all he can do is cry.

Sometimes life kicks us good, and we can merely just weep. When that happens, may we know that our God holds us in His arms.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:51-58

This passage is part of the liturgy for a United Methodist service of committal, and each time I say it at a graveside, it gives me great hope. This body must be changed to enter into eternity. This life must be changed to enter into forever. We must pass through the Jordan, and we will come out the other side transformed. But, in a good way. For when we pass through the Jordan, and enter into true life, we can then say, where oh death, is thy sting.

Remember, what we see here and now is not the end of reality. There is a life far grander and far more real that we have not seen, but through Christ, we will know.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 12:1-14

We see Jesus today call out the people because they were more concerned with keeping the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. The Lord wanted broken and contrite hearts, He wanted mercy. He was not as concerned with people following a checklist. He wants us to love Him. To love each other. To serve Him. And to serve each other. If we do this, we will satisfy every demand made of us. If we love. If we trust. If we live in grace. Today, let us not be so concerned with checking things off a list as we are about living and loving and serving. If love God and love neighbor. We will be the people that God needs us to be.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Lamentations 1:1-12

Lamentations may be the saddest book in all the Bible. In this book, the prophet weeps over his fallen city. He weeps because of the destruction. He weeps over what sin has caused to happen. He weeps over what used to be and over what can now never be. He weeps because that which was once so great now lies in ruins.

One of my favorite quotes ever is by Max Lucado. I've quoted it a million times and through my life I'll probably quote it a million more. The reason why God hates sin so much is because of what it does to His children. You can read Lamentations and see what sin can do if we let it go unchecked.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:41-50

We see here Paul talking about the first Adam and the second Adam. Through the first Adam, that is, Adam, sin entered the world. Through the second Adam, that is, Jesus Christ, life and salvation entered the world. Jesus Christ came to undo the effects of the first Adam. He came to set right those things which were corrupted by the fall. In short, He came to restore the world, and to restore each of us. He came to bring salvation and healing, and wholeness. He came to restore us.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 11:25-30

Here is that great passage where the Lord tells us to come to Him, if we are weary. Today, are you weary? Are you tired? Are you burdened by life and its concerns? Are you weighted down? Are you stressed? Are you over come? Are you just plain old tired?

Go to Him. Rest in Him. Find life in Him. It is there. Rest and peace and comfort are there, in Christ Jesus. Are you weary today? Rest in Him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 22, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 44:1-14

There is much to be gained by looking around. Today, the Lord tell those that are His, but not living in Israel: look. Don't you see what happened when my people departed? Do you see the destruction that came upon them? Do you see how their sin lead to their doom? Do you see what their actions caused? Don't do the same thing.

There is much that we can learn from looking at our own mistakes, and the mistakes of others. The only bad mistake is one that we don't learn from. Today, may we look within, and look around, and see the things that we can learn from. May we grow from all we've done, good and bad, and may we set a positive, not negative, example for others.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:30-41

Paul reminds us that this life is not permanent, and as great and glorious as it is; it is just a reflection of what is to come one day. That can give us hope in all of life. As grand and wonderful as life is now, God has something better in store. So remember today and always, this life is just a glimpse of what awaits and this life is a just a fore taste of what is to come. Something sweeter is on the way.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 11:16-24

We see here Jesus mention some of the criticism he receives. Some said He had a demon. Others said that He was a drunkard. That's a pretty broad cross section right there. The reason why folks didn't know what to make of His was because they weren't used to anyone like Him. They'd never seen someone love and serve and forgive as He did. They'd never seen a life lived out so full of grace. They'd never encountered one so full of God.

Now, of course He was the Son of God and God Himself incarnate, but He was also human. And He showed us how to live and love and forgive. And folks aren't used to that. They aren't used to lives lived out of grace. Today, may we live in such a manner, and may grace shine forth in all that we do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 37:3-21

We see Jeremiah do something that most all prophets have to do, but no one likes to do. It is to tell someone something that they don't want to hear. The king wanted to hear good news. It would have been easier for Jeremiah to tell him good news. But, he could not. He had to tell him the truth. He had to tell him what God had told him to say, and what he knew was right.

A true friend is someone that will tell us not what we want to hear, but what we need to here. Many folks will tell us the things that we think we want to hear. It is rare to have someone actually tell us the things that we must hear. May we seek out true friends and may we be true friends.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 14:13-25

Paul tell us that it is better to speak 5 words that will help someone as opposed to 5000 that would not. We need to remember in life that we live not just for our own desires or our own wants or our own spirituality, we live to be a help to and a service to others. Paul's primary concern was that in all that he did and all that he said, he would strengthen what God was doing through the church. He wanted to contribute to the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. May we do the same.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:24-33

We know today that God takes an account of us. He knows even the hairs on our head. Take heart. You are not forgotten. The Lord has not forgotten your plight, your worried, or your concerns. Know that He knows what is going on and He cares. If He can count the hairs upon our hearts, cannot He also count the concerns upon your soul?

So, today, let us cast our cares to Him, for He cares for us. Trust in Him, lean on His understanding, and live in His amazing grace, knowing that He cares for you today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 36:27-37:2

We see the Lord instructing Jeremiah to tell the people about what is coming, about the trouble that is coming to their door because they would not listen. The prophets often told the people the things that they did not want to hear, in hopes that they would repent and return to God. But, they would not.

In life, we may hear things sometimes we don't want to hear. Our doctor may tell us to change our lifestyle. Our preacher may tell us to forgive an old hurt. Our parents or our children may say or do something that we cannot bear to hear. In these times, listen. Listen particularly if it is something that we need to hear or do, but just simply do not want to. Listen, and act. Be aware of how the Lord may speak and follow His voice when He does.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 14:1-12

We see Paul tell us today that the point of our gifts, that the point of all these things that the Lord has given us is so that the church can be built up and the Good News spread. The gifts that the Lord has given us: music, speaking, leadership, teaching, whatever gift you may have today, it was given you for a higher good. It was given you for purpose more than yourself. It was given so that we can do good and change our world, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today, are we using what God has given us for a greater good? Are we using His gifts in the way that He would have us?

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:16-23

We see the Lord telling His followers, don't worry when you have to say something. Don't worry when you have to speak in my name. I'll give you what you need to have. I'll give you the words to speak. I think this comes down to trust. Do we trust Jesus to be there in the times that we need Him? Do we trust Him to give us the words, or the strength or the courage. He said that He would. Do we believe?

Today, may we find the power that comes when we live by the power of our belief. May we live in the power of trust. May we live in the power of grace.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 15, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 36:11-26

We see the Lord condemn what is called the "false fasting" of the people. It is interesting to note that while the Lord demands action, what He truly desires is actions with a right heart. Thus the saying, the Lord loves a thankful giver. It is not just enough to give, we want to give with the right reason and right intent. Sometimes, giving with the wrong heart can actually turn someone against giving and cause them to not to want to give in the future.

That's what has happened here. The people have fasted, but not with the right heart. The Lord wants them not fast, but to fast for the right reason. Today, may the actions we take be taken with the right reasons and with the right heart.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

We could spend a million years talking about this great passage of scripture, but I'll simply piggy back what we talked about in the first reading. Paul tell us that if he surrendered his body to flames, but does not have love, he had done nothing. It is not just enough to do. We must be. It is not just enough to be busy for the Lord. We must be still and listen. We must allow His love to sweep over us and then let that love be our motivating force for action.

That's hard sometimes. I'd rather be busy than listen. But, sometimes, we have to slow down. We have to stop. And, we have to allow God's love to saturate us so that we can be the people that we need to be, to do the things we need to do.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:5-15

Today, we see the Lord tell his disciples to sit and wait for the people to come to them. Not, that's not what we read. We read Him tell the disciples to go! Go everywhere preaching the good news! Go all over. Don't wait for them to come to you, you go to them! You have great news of hope and love and salvation! Go and tell it on the mountain!

Today, may we go. May we take this Good News we have and live it out loud. Let us not wait! Let us go!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 11, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 23:4-25

In the past few days and weeks we've seen a bunch of kings, most more evil than the last. Today, we see perhaps the greatest king since David, Josiah. He did right in the sight of God. He tore down the idols, he destroyed the places of false worship, and he brought back the Passover and the correct worship of God. He was righteous and he was good.

Yet, he came from a sinful father. His upbringing was not the best. In spite of that, he chose what was right. Perhaps this has two lessons for us. First, just because someone comes from what many deem to be a "bad" family does not mean they will turn out that way. Second, and more important, what we can we do as the church and as individual Christians do to make sure that persons that aren't born into the best of situations see light and love and mercy. What can do to make that possible?

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

We see today that in spite of different gifts, they all come from the same giver. All of our talents and gifts, as diverse as they are, all come from the same Lord. May we never be more in love with the gift than with the Giver. And may we always remember that all of our gifts, great and small, are given to glorify the Giver of life and love and mercy.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 9:18-26

We see Jesus bringing life to two hopeless situations today. One as a daughter than was dead, the other a women very sick. In both cases, people turned desperately to Jesus, knowing He was their last hope. In both cases, Jesus brought life to situations that looked hopeless. But, let us never forget, there is no hopeless situation. For, as long as God's Spirit is at work, God's people are on the move, and God's light guides us each, there is nothing too dark, no situation too hopeless, no need too great, that God can't work.

Remember, He is not done with us yet, and remember there is no darkness to dark that God' can't bring light.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Good Morning. Thomas came though well yesterday, he's feeling better and already back in daycare. Today just a quick quote, courtesy of my good friend, Rocky Henriques and his daily Christian Quote of the Day.

God has a way of answering my requests, my prayers, in ways I never even dreamed of -- not always in a pleasant way, not always in a way I would have chosen, but always in a way that He sees best.

--Alan Smith

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 8, 2007

Good Morning. I wanted to let you know that there will be no blogging tomorrow. My son Thomas is getting tubes put in his ears and we have to be there pretty early in the morning. We'll resume Wednesday, though

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 21:1-18

We see in this passage the power of individual responsibility. Manasseh knew better than to do the things that he was doing. After all, he was raised by one the only good kings in the history of Judah. But, he still did wrong. Maybe he became king to quick at age 12. Who knows the ultimate reason he departed from the Lord. But, for whatever reason, he did.

And with all the evil he did, he knew better. He was raised better. He had the means to do right, but he did not. There are circumstances in life that we can't control. But, in everything that we do, we do have a choice. Today, in spite of whatever challenges may come, whatever problems we face, whatever adversity is in our way; may we choose to do right.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1

I think one of Paul's most important teachings is one of the last things he writes in this passage. Do all things to the glory of God. That is so important for us to realize that everything we do; from work to play, should be done to the glory of God. Sunday morning is not the only time we worship God; we worship God in every act of our lives, for everything is done to His glory.

Today, may every act we do, everything we do, whether it exciting or drudgery, in all things; let us do it to the glory of God.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 8:28-34

I heard someone recently say this passage is the first recorded instance of deviled ham.

But, in a more serious vein, I think one of the important things in this passage is what happens at the end. The people ask Jesus to leave. They are concerned and overwhelmed by His power. The know He comes to bring change; and they don't like or want change in their lives. They don't want the salvation He offers, hard is that is to believe.

So, they ask Him to leave. May we never be so afraid of what Jesus may ask us to do that we ask him to leave, as they did.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wenesday, October 3, 2007

I won't be posting the rest of this week, I've got to be in Jackson, MS early tomorrow for the Pastor's Leadership School. I'll start back again Monday. Have a great weekend!

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 18:9-25

We see the northern kingdom today defeated. And things aren't looking too good today for the southern kingdom of Judah. The king of Assyria comes today, taking gold and mocking God. He comes tells Hezekiah that it would be best to go ahead and submit to him, don't rely upon Egypt to come and save you, and surly don't rely upon God.

That is a message that we hear today and we may even think sometimes ourselves. In a dangerous world, in a world with a lot of trouble, in a world where everything seems to be shifting, we are tempted to place our trust in many things. Do not forget that our ultimately safety, strength, and hope comes from nothing else other than God.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Paul reminds us that we live not just for ourselves, but for the entire body of believers. So, there may be something that does not bother us; that is not a problem for us, but if we do it, it may cause someone else to stumble. Paul tells us that in that case, we should refrain. We live not just for ourselves. We live as part of a body, which is the church. And we should live in a way that helps to build up each other, strengthen each other, and encourage each other.

We must listen to the spirit, and hear what He says. Remember, we live not just for ourselves, but for each other. May we live in a way that really does strengthen the body and that gives glory to God.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 7:13-21

Jesus tells us this morning that things are not always what they appear. The broad gate looks like the way that leads to life. It doesn't. False teachers look like they preach truth. The don't. So folks that say Lord, Lord, look faithful. They aren't.

Then, what are we to do? How are we to know? How do we know which way to go? Remember, we follow not paths or humans. We follow Jesus. Listen to Him, stay close to Him, fall in love with Him. And, when the time comes for choices, He will lead us where we need to be.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Chronicles 29:1-3, 30:1-27

We see in this passage one of the great kings of Judah, Hezekiah. What makes him great? Is it his great army? Mighty strength? Wisdom? Leadership? All of this are important for a king, but what made him a great king is what was said in the first part of this passage. He did right in the eyes of the Lord.

Not many kings in his day could say that. In fact, that was not said about many kings at all. But, it was said about him. He right in God's eyes, and in that; he lead the people right. Great leadership comes from following God. If we are led by Him, we will be able to lead others. Hezekiah followed the Lord, and in doing that, he lead the people right. May we each do the same in our jobs, families and churches.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:32-40

We see Paul continue to tell the people to focus on God. That is what is what is most important to him, and to each of us. But, we think, why does Paul keep saying this? Why can't he move onto something else? Perhaps because we sometimes need to hear things over and over again before they sink in. That is why in the Old Testament, the people are told over and over and over again to tel the stories to their children. For, the more the kids hear, the better they'll remember. And the better they remember, the more they'll live in the knowledge of God's love and truth. Paul wants the the people know that God needs to come first. So, he keeps telling us.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 7:1-12

The Lord tells us that great parable today, before you take the speck out of your neighbors' eye; look for the log in your own. We are all weak and frail, and we all need to realize that we each stand, only by God's grace. And, if we stand in that grace, we will realize that we should be slow to criticize, quick to praise, and prayerful in all.

Let's spend more time looking for the logs in our own eyes, and less time looking for the specks in our neighbors. In doing that; we come to realize that as that old spiritual goes

It's me oh Lord - Standin' in the need of prayer
It's me oh Lord - Standin' in the need of prayer

Not my mother (not my father) it's me oh Lord
Not the preacher (not the sinner) It's me oh Lord
Standin' in the need of prayer

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 1, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 7

One of the things we see over and over in the Bible is the provision of God for His people. We don't always seen things go easily or well, but in the end, God is always at work for good, and always working for the good of His people. Today, the word was proclaimed that it would all work out the next day, and some did not believe it. But, it did.

Quite often we hear words of encouragement in our darkest hours; folks say, it will all work out the end. And we don't believe. We can only see the darkness all around. We can't see the hope. But, as sure as God lives, there is hope. For God is not done with us yet, and there is still much good that He longs to do in our lives. The people of Israel saw God's mighty hand in their lives. May we have the grace of God to see that same in our lives.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Paul gives us some words here in regards to family life. The one thing that Paul wants us to do in all of our relationships on the earth is to keep God primary. Paul wants us to worry more about God and being faithful to Him than anything else. That may sound a little harsh to our ears, but it does make sense.

How? For me to be the husband, or father, or pastor, or friend, or son that I need to be, I must place God first in my life. If He is not first, everything else will fall astray. Only when He takes the first place in my life can everything be as it should. That is the great point that Paul is trying to tell us this morning. Keep God first.

Gospel Lesson

Matt 6:25-34

Jesus tells us much the same as the above two passages today. Don't worry about what you will wear or what you will eat. Doesn't the Lord take care of the lilies? Won't He take care of us as well. Keep (and seek) Him first, and all these things will be added. When we chase happiness in other things, we find ourselves empty. But, when we chase life in God, we find more life, more joy, more peace, than we can ever imagine. So, in seeking Him first, we find everything that we could ever need.