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Live Like Genuine Christian Men Proverbs 8

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know men of courage and conviction said, … AMEN!!

On the day we recognize our dads, we also remember the Fathers of the Church who gathered together to work out, bump and grind, fashion the Athanasiun Creed. We know how difficult it is to reach agreements on beliefs, goals, a groups dreams to get on paper and everyone have some buy-in. All the men who gathered together to compose these creeds were Orthodox, Scripture believing faithful disciples of Christ. They were also from all parts of Christendom, and bound to have their own cultural views on how we should “be” Christians. Reformed, Evangelical Americans have put their own, albeit wrong spin on Christianity, we should all agree on the basics. The problem is when we have people, e.g. Joel Osteen who believes who Jesus is, but are tragically wrong about what He is about and those errors do impact the core beliefs we see spelled out in the Athanasian Creed.

We have 3 creeds. First and traditional is the Apostles Creed. The Apostles creed comes out of the Acts church, it probably grew as a way to teach members, new and old, about the basics of what we believe. As time went on, lots of, crazy beliefs started to grow about the Christian church and beliefs especially in terms of who Jesus is. The entirety of Christianity pivots on who you say Jesus is. We have a lot of “churches” today that claim to be “Christian”, but they are simply not. In order to be a Christian, in a Christian Church, you and that church need to subscribe to the core beliefs of the creeds that have been agreed upon by the church. Those other “churches” simply would not ascribe to some of the beliefs, these are the bare-bone beliefs, the starting ground, the base-line of being a Christian. Almost always the sticking point of other beliefs is about the person and nature of Jesus, that is, Who Jesus really is.

Heretical beliefs such as the LDS, or Mormons, the other is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both would say, “sure, Jesus is the son of God, small “g”, not really god. Jesus is really important, brought us a lot, but not eternal god, he’s a created being, may be above us, but not all-powerful god co-equal with the Father. For most heresies, the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, a Star Wars idea of “the force Luke”. Which is not true, Scripture continually refers to the Holy Spirit as “Him” and ascribes a number of interactive functions that He performs. There’s a lot of heresies out there that like to make our different beliefs about the Holy Trinity a minor point, because it’s all about how we earn our way, we know it’s entirely about what Jesus does to start and bring us to completion in Him.

The deal buster is in how we are saved. The propitiation of our sins, what’s done in order for our sins to be fully paid? Our sins are horrendous, even us ordinary old people. The things we do are truly ugly, mean. We may not kill anyone, but often by virtue of our actions, our words, we do a lot of damage to people. I was with 8 pastors for 8 hours a day for five days. Between the stories in the text books and the other pastors, WOW!, a lot of damage is done to people by all of us.

Today we want to recognize dads, this is your day! I also want to recognize Jim and Betsy for stepping up to make sure the dads of the congregation had a nice breakfast, everything was really great, and if you haven’t, thank those who brought us this gift. We had a great Mom’s Day and Dad’s Day breakfast. Marge wanted to be here to do this, she’s done this in the past at church.

King Duncan in his Father’s Day sermon tells about: “Robert Lewis in his book Real Family Values tells a fascinating story about a heartwarming discovery workers at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, in the winter of 1993. While renovating a section of the museum, they found a photograph that had been hidden in a crevice underneath a display case. The man in the picture had a bat resting on his shoulder; he was wearing a uniform with the words “Sinclair Oil” printed across his chest; his demeanor was gentle and friendly.

Stapled to the picture was a note, scribbled in pen by an adoring fan. The note read: “You were never too tired to play ball. On your days off, you helped build the Little League Field. You always came to watch me play. You were a Hall of Fame Dad. I wish I could share this moment with you. — Your Son, Pete.”’

NASCAR, football, hunting, whatever it is that bonds family and yea, especially father and son is great, none is better or worse, well … hey anyone who’s seen Field of Dreams Kevin Costner meets his baseball dad when his dad was the same age as Costner, and if you don’t get a little misty eyed, remembering your own father, well I would have to check for a pulse. It reminds us that dads are those people who are generally quiet, let their bat speak for them. They want to be that example, and certainly the example for Christian dads is Jesus. None of us is ever going to be anywhere near where Jesus is, despite what Mormons teach, but that is the ideal we shoot for. We talked this past week on the Christian man and Christian woman. The roles God gave us to truly complement each other, man and woman were made to be “one flesh”, to be together, to bring a child into the world. So much depends on the man being that good Christian father, to both his son and daughter. Daughters may not be baseball fans, though I’ve known a lot of women who bonded with their dads because of baseball and have warm memories of sharing that with their dad. One of the many great things about women, while most men get into a groove pretty quick and decide what they’re about, the women, wife, daughter, in their life, often adapt to that in order to create that bonding with their husband, dad. A special trait women have, and a way to honor and support him. It is that difference that comes together as a mom and dad, to complement each other as is described in Scripture over and over again. That way, ladies you especially enable that man to go out and do the things that gives strength to him. You may not think it’s a big deal for a Christian man to go into the world to hammer together something like the Athanasian Creed. A man has to decide what is most important, put aside the fear and take a visible stand for Jesus in that day as well as today. It takes courage and conviction to assert the highest ideals especially in a world that is so full of mediocrity and waffling. You will be popular in today’s wishy-washy culture if you just smile, nod your head, go along to get along. Actually standing for something of substance, not what the world decides is important, what actually is important, is not the road to success and wealth. That road is about being a flatterer, telling people what they want to hear, avoiding conflict and controversy at any price. We’re a world more concerned replaying a disputed call in a football game over and over, than concerned about genuine truth. I see more and more hopelessnesss, shallowness and despondency than ever. Where a beautiful young girl achieves some fame through modeling, an otherwise kind, considerate young girl commits suicide because of the bullying she endures by mediocre, jealous, hateful group who because of their personal inadequacy, inflict their angst of someone who does something with her life, because they can’t accept their own inadequacies and second rate lives. A culture that celebrates the phoney and try to say how genuine it is. A Christian man stands up against the attempts of the culture to drag others down to the lowest common denominator and insists on the highest ideals for himself, his family and those around him. Not in a pretentious way but in a way only a man committed to Christ and posing his life in the way of a strong and passionate man in Jesus. Not too many of those guys! Most simply like to parrot the culture and then tell us how genuine that is. Christian men make a strong witness for the highest ideals in Jesus and insist the world live according to those standards and principles as the men who stood for Christ in history who wrote and put their names to documents like the Athanasian Creed that demands the highest and rejects the mediocrities of this phoney world.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom  Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

 

Ascends as Lord of all creation Acts 1 Trinity Lutheran Church,

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know Jesus’ sits at the right hand of all power and all glory said… AMEN !

We use the “Common Lectionary”, when people come up to do the readings, they traditionally read out of the service book, that has the daily readings assuring that we observe the important, formative, enlightening events of the Bible. It usually guides our worship. Sometimes the pastor has a good reason to deviate from Scripture, but usually we want to stick to the lectionary. This keeps the pastor focused. Too often in non-liturgical worship, preaching and teaching is more about the preacher’s hobby-horse versus, trying to teach the entire Bible. The entire Bible is important, we need, at the very least to be familiar with the various parts and be able to describe different parts of the Bible and what is going on in those parts. The entire Bible points to Jesus being active before His incarnation, the events Jesus lived through in the incarnation. When we understand that, we have an even deeper appreciation of the entire Bible. People will often tell me how “boring” the Book of Such and Such is. Yet that Book, all of Scripture describes Jesus, God the Son who has lived eternally, John writes in his Gospel: “ESV John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” As much as the Father was through all eternity, so is the Son and the Holy Spirit. They may not have been revealed until the New Testament, but they very much existed, all eternal God. I’ve had people who claim to be Christian “pastors” say, I don’t preach on the Old Testament, it’s the Gospels and the epistles that really matter. Nothing could be more wrong, and someone who claims to be a pastor, and believes that, is not a qualified Christian pastor. All this is to say that the lectionary keeps us all honest, on track, having a thorough understanding of Jesus, and all of Scripture as possible. While Ascension Day may seem anticlimactic, OK, He rises up into the air and disappears, time to move on… Daniel Marrs writes: “I wonder if our tendency to let Ascension Day slip past uncelebrated has more to do with the simple fact that it feels anticlimactic? The Christmas story tells us that God purposed to be with us, joining himself to human nature and walking among us as a man. And we know how Jesus’ life culminated with the world-shaking significance of the cross and the resurrection. But then he just…leaves. Why? And what does it mean for us?[1]

Jesus is not unique in being bodily taken to heaven, Elijah was lifted up into heaven in front of his student Elisha. ESV 2 Kings 2:11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” It does seem that God’s intention for Elijah that he would be the one who would announce the Messiah’s return. We know he was with Jesus at the Transfiguration. Moses was also, some people believe Moses was also bodily ascended into heaven. Elijah and Moses are thought to be the two witnesses in Revelation 11: 3-12, because they were bodily raised to heaven for these purposes. While Dr Luther stipulated that the Bible did not say anything about the bodily assumption of Mary, he didn’t deny the possibility either. Lutherans have rejected that view, I’m not trying to convince you of it, but just that Mary is included in the list. Isaiah may be also, he was brought into the presence of Yahweh, but the intention was not to keep him there, same for St Paul.

While it might make an interesting discussion, how many angels dancing on the head of a pin, kind of discussion, we know this for sure. Elijah and Enoch may have been raised up to somewhere by God in heaven, and Paul says that he was raised to what he called the 3rd heaven, Jesus was raised to the right hand of God. In His Ascension into heaven, Jesus became the entirety of the universe. Elijah, Enoch, Paul, Mary(?) if God did raise them bodily into some level or part of heaven, Jesus was raised to the right hand of God. Being at the right hand of any ruler was always understood as the person being at the right hand had the power and authority of the ruler. Peter Mikhalev offers this pointed quote: “St. John Chrysostom: “Elijah ascended as if into Heaven, because he was a slave, but Christ ascended into Heaven itself, because He was the Lord.”[4][2] This is generally to be understood as the man who carries out the will of the ruler. Enoch, Elijah, Mary (?) may have bodily ascended to heaven, but to be sure no where near the right hand where as we profess in the Apostle’s Creed: “seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” By virtue of this position of power Jesus is He whose rule is in complete glory: John Calvin writes: “Christ was invested with lordship over heaven and earth, and solemnly entered into possession of the government committed to him — and that he not only entered into possession once for all, but continues in it, until he shall come down on Judgment Day” [3](Institutes 2.16.15). Mikhalev quotes St Gregory: “…by His own Divine power the Creator ascended into Heaven, because He was returning to there from whence He descended. He entered there where He had habitation from the ages: for, although He ascended as man, as God He possessed both Heaven and Earth.”[14][4]

R C Sproul writes “God’s right hand is the place of “highest favor with God the Father” (WLC, Q&A 54), and the phrase is used throughout Scripture to indicate His power and sovereignty (Ex. 15:6Isa. 48:13).  This means that He is ruler over all and that the kings of the earth rule only according to His sovereign permission. As such, Christ alone is worthy of our highest allegiance, and it is to Him that we must render obedience, even if it means, at times, defying the rulers of this world. Jesus’ kingdom alone is eternal, and His rule is above all others.”[5]

That Jesus raised Himself to heaven, to the ultimate glory of His ruling over all of Creation eternally, also is another demonstration of His Lordship overall creation. Arator writes: “…let us commend the manner of his rule though the powers that are subject to him: born of a virgin mother, rising again by treading upon death, seeking the scepter of heaven He announces such deeds by these angelic servants. Nor do the elements cease to serve their thunderer. In his honor as he is coming, a star does service as a soldier going before the magi. A cloud waits upon him in obedience as he goes.”[6] As He is about to be lifted up, unbeknownst to the disicples, He gives them the great commission, we quote Matthew 28 more often, but Acts starts this way, reminding us we are His disciples, His witnesses to the end of the earth, everywhere. As He says that He is lifted up, the disciples stand there [wide eyed] The angel sitting there had to be amused what you guys doing? He’s told you what to do and He will return in the same way. In the meantime it’s time to turn to for Jesus.” They certainly did in the power of the Holy Spirit whose intentional introduction will be made at Pentecost that we will observe next Sunday.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2019/05/its-ascension-day-heres-what-it-means-for-you/?utm_source=bg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weeklybrief&spMailingID=59440308&spUserID=MjgzMzMxOTk1NTAS1&spJobID=1644181925&spReportId=MTY0NDE4MTkyNQS2

[2] Did Enoch and Elijah ascend into heaven? Deacon Peter Mikhalev

[3] R C Sproul quoting John Calvin https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/seated-at-gods-right-hand/

[4] Op Cit

[5] Seated at God’s Right Hand   RC Sproul

[6] Arator quoted in Ancient Commentary on Scripture NT 4 p 10

Rock Hall Triathlon Festival

The Rock Hall Triathlon Festival is on Saturday June 1, 2019 to Sunday June 2, 2019. It includes the following events: Rock Hall Olympic Triathlon (Individual), Rock Hall Olympic Triathlon Relay (2-3 members), Rock Hall Sprint Triathlon (Individual), Rock Hall Sprint Triathlon Relay (2-3 members), Rock Hall Olympic Aquabike (Individual), and Rock Hall Sprint Aquabike (Individual).

Finisher's Certificate

Source: Rock Hall Triathlon Festival

The Lamb of God in the brilliance of the New Jerusalem Revelation 21 May 26, 2019 Trinity Lutheran Church, Chestertown, Md

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know true life is the eternal resurrection said … AMEN!

The Book of Revelation is discussed at this time of year, because it is part of the “new” church. The Acts church was certainly brand new for those people who were chosen by the Holy Spirit, to start the NT. The Book of Revelation is about the end times. As much interest in the end times, there’s not much that can be done about it. Be curious, look for God’s intent in the end times, but when prophecies start to come to pass about the end times, there won’t be any doubt about what is happening. Further for those who are in Christ still in the world, will be provided for. There is no doubt that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is always in control. What is biblical the Judgement, Paul writes to the Thessalonians: “ For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18) We know the lead up to that in Revelation. It will be horrible, we should pray that we are in the Lord’s presence and not here on earth during the events described in Revelation. I will stipulate that for the guys, it sounds weird to be talking about a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, weirds guys out to think about. There’s not a sexual connotation to that phrase, it’s much more about the most intimate relationship there is. We’ve had a physical relationship with Jesus since we were confirmed. We eat His Body and Blood. He has given His Body and Blood to us in His sacrifice. Through that we derive the spiritual sustenance, strength, in order to live a strong and healthy life for Jesus. When we don’t eat His Body and Blood then our spiritual health declines, our faith in Christ becomes weaker and we are less able to withstand the attacks of the world and Satan. As much as we need food to be strong do what we need to do in our life, we need the Body and Blood in order to be strong enough to do Christ’s will in the world. Likewise, as the church is the Body of Christ in the world, that we have become one flesh with Jesus by eating His Body and Blood, we become that one flesh in the New Jerusalem. From the very beginning God told Adam and Eve: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) This is from the very beginning God established marriage, between a man and a woman the only way to become one flesh. We are one in the church in the Body of Christ, we become one with Jesus in the new world, in the new eternal life. If this is a problem for someone, nothing you can do about it. Mormons think otherwise, Mormons are fatally, tragically wrong. Like pretty much everything, people try to create a designer heaven, a designer new world, because they know what’s right, everything should be their way. It’s bizarre to listen to such people talk. God tells us “your ways are not my ways”. That He has a much greater plan that we can’t conceive of, an entirely new paradigm. Randy Alcorn, answered this question. Alcorn is quoting C S Lewis: “But I do think C. S. Lewis’s insight was great, where he talked about the boy who had heard about people having sex and said, “Well, do they eat chocolate while they are having it?” — because he was told is this is a wonderful experience. To him it was like nothing could be better, you know, than eating chocolate. And then Lewis makes the argument that perhaps our sense of loss about the idea of not being able to have sexual relationships is like that boy thinking that chocolate is the greatest joy and that there are greater joys that await us.”[1] The point is that it’s been God’s plan so far, if we’ve trusted and benefited from that plan for however many decades, is it difficult to understand that in so many ways He has something so much more glorious, wonderful, fulfilling, strengthening in what He has planned for us? I don’t think there can be any doubt that the resurrection, the New Jerusalem is going to be magnificent beyond our wildest imagination. So when we talk about the church being the Bride of Christ, it will be for all of us as the Body of Christ, His Church, and that it will be glorious, triumphant and exultant in a way that we can’t begin to imagine. In the resurrection we will be restored to so much more as we are today. Men will be strong, brilliant, creative, the true pinnacle of manhood and strength. Women will also be strong, brilliant, creative, the true pinnacle of womanhood and compassion. We will be restored to the total, complete apex of what it is to truly be a man or a woman. Jesus told us: ESV Matthew 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” this is how God made us, this was His eternal expectation for us, that we should be the near perfection of what a man or a woman is. We’ve achieved the ability to tinker with that, to try and frustrate God’s will for that person. His will is in how He made us, not how we’ve allowed ourselves to be corrupted and undermined by the world and Satan. It is up to us to follow and cooperate in the fulfillment of God’s word. Not to try to stymie His will but to trust Him to the completion of His much greater, all-knowing, His great love for us that His end will be superior to anything we can imagine. His promise for us may entail some tragedy, some hardship, some misery along the way, but when the ultimate result is to be His man, His woman in the ultimate/eternal resurrection where we will have life and life more abundant. The “brilliance” of the New Jerusalem will be powerfully stunning and focused, right in the midst of that, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice. Jesus will be that temple, the center of all that is in the New Jerusalem “having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel.” To our post-modern, technological eye that doesn’t seem compelling, but considering the time, that was as radiant as a first century person could imagine. To us it will be stunning almost overwhelming, truly beautiful and magnificent in form, brilliance and strength. “…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev 21:27) Only those who are perfect, that is those in Jesus. Those who are detestable are not in Christ, those who’ve rejected Jesus and chose a debauched life-style of the world, who live one of the lies of the world will not be able to enter, they will be condemned. For an age that loves to think of itself as so genuine, it is so phoney and debased.

As much as the Book of Acts describes the birth of the church, a church that completely changes the concept of what church is in the first century world, so does the Book of Revelation describe the next birth. We’ve had the new birth in Christ in our baptism, we have that new life in Him. In the Book of Revelation we will be restored to a new and eternal life, where God the Son will be our eternal husband and all that means as a provider, protector, enhancer, builder, changer. Whether we are man or woman, that new “church”, that new paradigm, new world, will be so abundant, so lush and promising, so challenging and fulfilling, anything and everything we could begin to imagine that we can have in the very presence of Him, Jesus, who loves us beyond anything we can comprehend and wants us to grow to eternity, to be that man and woman that we couldn’t begin to imagine but that He not only imagines, but has a specific plan for each of us, in this existence we are in now, and of the existence that we who are in Jesus will live to eternity. A promise and reward that is inexhaustible and eternally fulfilling.

We remember today, those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I particularly like to remember Petty Officer Nathan Bruckenthal, who was in Iraq, part of a boat crew and boarding officer that intercepted a dhow headed at an oil terminal. When he attempted to board, the attacker realizing he had been discovered detonated the explosives he had intended to destroy the terminal with, perhaps causing additional loss of life and also alerted other forces who discovered two other vessels trying to detonate explosions to cause harm at the same time. Only Petty Officer Bruckenthal was killed. As a fellow Coast Guardsman I identify with Nathan, I’m sure most here today have someone who lost their life or seriously injured in defense of their country and fellow man. There is so much tragedy and misery in this world, we should glory in what we remember on Memorial Day. We as Christians have the promise of Christ, that we will have an eternal, physical life that is magnificent, what we are and have now, will fade into obscurity, only remembered as what we lived through in order to be delivered by God into true life.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

 

[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/sex-in-heaven

Paul’s Damascus Road experience Acts 9

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who were brought to Jesus by the Holy Spirit said … AMEN !!! The Easter season, we continue to remember, commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate event of the Christian faith, it is the ultimate event of the world. The resurrection is God the Father’s ultimate answer it decides where we will ultimately be. It is to remember Jesus’ final time with His disciples. It is the lead up to Pentecost. Pentecost is centered in Acts, our readings in this season are in Acts and also the final coming of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. Luke, describes in the Book of Acts, the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit reveals Himself. He is sent, as promised, by Jesus to His disciples. Does that mean to just the people, and there would have been men and women in the room when the Holy Spirit arrived, who were in that room? Or is this the time when the Holy Spirit starts everyone off at the same time. From there God brings us to Him, makes us His disciples, gives us our new birth, we are reborn in the “Spirit” who comes to those born in Him in order to guide us and provide for us.  The Book of Acts has come down to us with different names. None of Scripture is “titled” the titles were given when they were included in the canon. Some are obvious, Matthew’s Gospel is:   ευαγγελιον κατα μαθ’θαιον [1]   “The Gospel according to Matthew”. Acts, has a few names, you see them used in different editions of the Bible. “The Book of Acts”. The Acts of the Apostles, the Acts of the Holy Spirit, the Acts of the Holy Ghost, the Acts of the Paraclete. I know what you’re thinking, did he fire… oh, sorry, “you’re thinking” what is Paraclete. The Holy Spirit in Acts in the Greek is refered to as pneu,matoj a`gi,ou. What English word can you think of that starts with “pneuma”, pneumatics? Power tools powered by compressed air. I’m sure you are all familiar with the power of the wind. Try riding a bike in 15mph wind for an hour and a half. Wind can be incredibly powerful, those going to North Carolina will see the effects of wind there. I’ve been in Kansas after a tornado hit, saw destruction caused by a relatively minor tornado. Wind is destructive. But air/compressed air/wind can be very useful. Most of man’s commerce was conducted using wind power, back when the ships were made of wood and the men were made of steel arrrrr. Sailing ships powered by wind. The Greek word para,klhtoj which is only used by John in his gospel and 1 John. But the word is related to the Book of Acts, because we see “Acts” being about the Holy Spirit. The word para,klhtoj means “comforter” which is how John uses the word, it also means “advocate”, one who advocates for us with the Father, this also describes Jesus, who is also an “intercessor”.

For those who saw: “Paul the apostle of Christ”, movie saw a sharp presentation of what is described in today’s Acts passage, often called “Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road”. For those who had a profound conversion experience, they often describe that experience as a “Damascus Road” experience.

I was, at best, nominally Christian. Wasn’t part of a church, kinda/sorta attended one church, a very old the congregation went back to shortly after the pilgrims, so it was also… well, let’s just say, not inviting, stereotypically aloof, very infocused. None of us were counseled, suggested to be a member of that church, frankly we felt little relationship to that church. My father was, at the time, just not interested, but interestingly enough said more than once, “they never even invited us to be a member”, which considering his antipathy I thought was a little odd. Were at best C & E, Christmas and Easter Christians and I can’t say I went to Christmas and Easter in the same year. The following is my Damascus Road, I am not comparing myself to Paul who God used to profoundly change Christianity and western culture, but this is my story: “It was in October mid-80s, we were out the night before until about 2am working a case, kind of nice out, no reason to worry about the weather. On Sunday since we had been out most of the night, the boat crews were sleeping late, then the SAR alarm ripped through the station, if people are asleep, hold it down a longer make sure everyone hears. I remember falling, most of my uniform still on, sliding into my boots, run as fast as I could.

On the way out, people are yelling at us 44!, 44!, meaning what boat to go to. The 44 Motor Life Boat is designed to go into heavy seas, up to about 50 foot, mostly to go out and recover persons in very immediate danger. Overnight the seas got very stirred up because of a large storm far off the coast, enough to really make the water rock and roll. After we passed Boston Light going south, seas were between fifteen and twenty feet high. We were getting rocked back and forth, doused with sea water, north of Cape Cod is significantly colder than south. Everything is an effort, we had to use lineman belts to move around the boat. High seas are deafening, communicating required constant yelling. Everyone but one guy was sea sick, my first experience with “dry heaves”. This was before the Coast Guard required real exposure suits, so we were getting hypothermic too.

It’s really miserable, what would normally take an hour, took over three hours to get where we had to be. The 44 wasn’t a fast boat, make it plow through 15 foot seas, it was much slower. At some point, I made a “vow” to God. If He got me out of this, I would go to church the next Sunday. I didn’t know what that meant, but, sometimes you don’t see a choice. After what took about 8 hours, we were back at Station Point Allerton, went home fell into bed, couldn’t stand the sight of food. Went to the regular job the next morning. True to my vow, I was at a church the next Sunday with Marge and our children Erica and James. From there God took me on a faith journey that has led to ministry and to coming here. Dr J Vernon McGee writes: “Paul recounts this incident [Damascus Road] twice more in the Book of Acts … We find him going over it again in his Epistle to the Philippians … [2] God does work in crazy ways. Speaking of the Coast Guard my big brother who I have known for forty years is watching his daughter dying of cancer. Your prayers for Marianne and her parents Jerry and Dawn would be most appreciated. The Book of Acts describes the birthday of the church, starting with Jesus’ ascension, the appearance of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the start of many missions, especially Paul’s who is the most profound theologian of Christianity and most prolific writer in the New Testament. Where God the Holy Spirit moves and dwells in each of us in Jesus, where He moves and guides each of us in our Christian journey to the resurrection. Where we remember all who set in place the church. We remember the church and all the blessings we receive from the church and even in terms of renewing our commitment to the Body of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ that has blessed us and continue to bless us. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/titles.pdf

[2] J Vernon McGee “Thru The Bible Commentary Acts Chapters 1-14” p 105

Shepherd of the Shepherd Psalm 23

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are thankful to God for their moms and wives said … AMEN!

“A census taker was making his rounds in the lower East side of New York, he interviewed an Irish woman bending over her washtub. “Lady, I am taking the census. What’s your name? How many children you have?” She replied, “Well, let me see. My name is Mary. And there’s Marcia, and Duggie, and Amy, and Patrick, and…” “Never mind the names,” he broke in, “just give me the numbers.” She stood up, hands on hips, a twinkle in her eye, said, “I’ll have ye know, sir, we ain’t got into numberin’ them yet. We ain’t run out of names!” The image of God as the Good Shepherd tells us that is the way it is with God. He knows us by name.”[1]

Pastors are shepherds. You will see many references to pastors being “under – shepherds” to Jesus who is the over-shepherd, the high ultimate pastor. I see pastors as sort of spiritual referees. Referees enforce the rules,… big reason to enforce the rules? No one gets hurt. Everyone can play the sport to the best of their ability, not breaking the rules or making it my way. Having a “level-playing” field. There are exceptions, Lebron James being one, yap, yap, yap. I will concede that it’s odd having NBA playoffs and no Lebron, but fer sure, do not miss the yap. Respect yes, but not a fan.

I do respect, referees, officials, well there was this one back in York…[sounding like Lurch], but they have a tough job. Most of them have been athletes so they know the thrill of accomplishment and sports is so much of that. Not to the point society has confused it today that sports is some be all, end all, but something that allows for achievement, don’t get me started on “participation” trophies “everyone’s a winner”. In a sense they are, those who actually get out there, put their best effort forward, except on Sunday mornings and week days when I’m having confirmation class. I have a “love- hate relationship”, in this for me. Pastors are kind of referees, and we’re also supposed to be coaches, genuine leaders, and a lot more, all wrapped up in one for Jesus. The referee part? There are rules, these are rules that have developed over hundreds, if not thousands of years. Rules were given to us by God. You could say rules have been changed in a lot of things. We know longer throw basketballs with laces on them into peach buckets. Dr James Naismith did not speak to Red Auerbach from Mount Sinai to receive the rules of basketball: “thou shalt not put an elbow into your opponents face. Thou shalt not, like LeBron, run from the top of the key to the basketball shoving everyone out of the way holding the ball the whole way and then yap at the ref that someone fouled him. I am a little hung up on Lebron.

Yes, basketball rules, ways that we do things, all sorts of man-made rules that get changed, most for good reasons, a lot for bad reasons, “that was the popular thing” is usually a bad reason. The Christian Church has rules that come from a much higher authority than James Naismith, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, whichever boogey man du jour is. As a pastor, that under-shepherd, the one given the authority to guide Jesus’ church, wherever that may be, I am required to abide by God’s authority given to His church in order for His church to function properly. There are people who will tell you what it’s really about and don’t let the facts get in the way. Much like Lebron and his helping the referees after every single play. We played a school in Arkansas, apparently the refs there either had different rules or early dinner reservations. They weren’t calling any fouls, and so I was put in to start the second half in order to push back. For my very first play I literally clotheslined the guy coming down the baseline with the ball. I raised my arm expecting to be called for the foul and the play was already past half court. Obviously these guys weren’t really concerned for the well-being of the players or for an orderly, competitive game. They had other interests and if someone got hurt, well Que Sera. Way too many people in the world like that. Too concerned with making their life easier and happier and if someone gets caught up and hurt in it, hey, not my problem. As Christians we are called to the highest authority, pastors are more so called. The under-shepherd is not there to blow the whistle on every ticky-tack traveling call. Probably one way that many in the church, and especially those that call themselves churches and have pastors who have little or no genuine training and pretty much “teach” what they “think” people should hear, instead of the time tested teachings that the church holds as truth. The church exists to provide leadership and protect in God’s teachings, which includes men who are truly qualified and enjoined to teach truth. Protection ultimately comes in the truth and we under-shepherds are about your spiritual protection and doing what is necessary for you to be delivered into eternal salvation. Any playing around with those instructions by a pastor leaves you unprotected and raises grave questions about the pastor. Those are questions I want to answer as forthrightly as possible when I stand before God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The word in the Hebrew is y[iªro÷ ”Roeh” describing someone who is responsible to “pasture”, to “tend”. Interestingly the Hebrew also “to associate with, to be a friend”. The shepherd not only knows the name of each sheep, but has a particular whistle for each sheep. Many of the most memorable passages of Scripture come from the Psalms, I can’t help but refer to Psalm 23. Certainly it is about the Lord being my shepherd on this “Good Shepherd Sunday”. Dr Martin Luther writes: “The 23rd psalm is a psalm of thanks in which a Christian heart praises and thanks God for teaching him and keeping him on the right way, comforting and protecting him in every danger through His Holy Word.”[2] That comfort, protection is to get us to that idyllic place promised by the psalmist. “laying down in green pastures”, beside still waters” to the post- modern ear doesn’t sound all that whoopee do! But if you look at the cover photo, one I took in Israel, does not look very inviting. Imagine how content the sheep would be if they had nice thick, lush grass to eat and lie down on. Further the shepherd leads them besides still waters. This may be a statement of complete, almost unattainable bliss. Dr McGee writes that sheep are frightened by turbulent water, can’t drink comfortably from turbulent water, but they don’t like stagnant water either. In Israel there isn’t a lot of in between. Most water is pretty stagnant in Israel or a few rushing rivers like the Jordan. I’m the under shepherd here, doing my best to lead everyone besides those parts of our lives that truly glorify God, give Him thanks for all that we have, but just like the shepherd, prepared to defend the flock, to do all I can to keep the wolves, bears of the world from scattering and feasting on the flock. Who’s the Good Shepherd in every home? Yea, dad/hubby, he leads us to those green pastures, to those still waters as best as he can. We husbands serve our wives to the best of our ability, often without getting a lot of notice, but let’s face how much recognition or appreciation does the shepherd get from a flock of sheep. Godly moms and wives know how much their shepherd serves them and make sure he knows they are grateful for their service. We show our appreciation to our mom and wife for all they do, but doing all we can do to serve with our lives and our works to make her life better. As Christian men we are called to serve our wives every day, and our wives give us the respect we need. As shepherds we take the lead as the shepherd does when he is moving his sheep in Israel, in order to lead our wife and mother to green pastures and still waters. In the eternal resurrection, the world will be so lush fields, the still waters. Dr McGee writes: “When sheep are lying down in green pastures, it means they have their tummies full. And Christ is our sufficiency…” Total, complete contentment. There is nothing else that is needed, complete peace, everything is provided for you. The contentment of being in the very presence of the Good Shepherd, who has given us the assurance of our complete peace and provision. There will be no wolves or bears, there will be nothing that will lead us to sin or separation from God. We will be completely protected from sin and there will never be any threats to our living in the very presence of God who has lead us to safety, peace and eternal perfect life in the new world of the resurrection. We will know that peace and contentment in the world of the resurrection.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] Donald B. Strobe, Collected Words, www.Sermons.com

[2] Reading the Psalms with Luther p 59