Tag Archives: Gods glory

God has your back, He doesn’t want to kick you in the back

Henry Blackaby observes that when Jesus encountered Pete on the shore of the Sea of Galilee He wasn’t there to bust on Peter, but He does push on Peter. God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit knows we are going to sin. God knows we are going to drop the ball and He’s not waiting in the weeds to pop out and bust us.

Having said that, it doesn’t give us an excuse to sin either. Heck you may mess up at work and while you didn’t get fired, you sure don’t want to mess up again. I’m not saying God is Donald “You’re fired” Trump but it is more like a relationship. I don’t want to hurt my wife, I want to please my wife. If I do something to hurt her I don’t want to do it again, make the same mistake. It is comforting to know that Jesus knows we will fail and He does provide for that sin and brings us back to Him in repentance. We are forgiven and God not only forgives but helps us to recover from our sins. He brings us back into His presence He helps us to refocus our life and recover from where we sinned and puts us back onto the track of life He wants us on. There’s no doubt where He wants us is far better than where we are going to chose. He has our back, He is there to love and support us and put us back where we belong when we grieve Him in sin. But that is certainly not a license to sin.  We want to please Him who gives us so much. We will fumble and sin but then He brings us back, dusts us off, tell us that www are His and then puts us back where we belong.  I don’t want to disappoint my wife and I don’t want to disappoint God.

Henry and Richard Blackaby  “Experiencing God Day by Day” p 86

Fear is so crippling, so limiting, such a waste to live.

FEAR!!! Fear of failure, of the future, of change, of growing older and either being injured, sick or disabled, or losing physical ability. Fear drives our desperate attempts to keep what we have and never trying to move and grow. If we attempt to move and grow we might risk what we have. Fear of trying church, of taking a chance to follow Jesus, not committing but at least trying, trusting a friend, family or pastor and just giving worship a chance.

Jesse Thomas in “Triathlete Magazine” (May 2014 pp 40-42) talks about the fear, as a professional triathlete of that day when he (or his wife Lauren, also a professional triathlete) will suffer a career ending injury or just realize that his abilities are not sufficient to remain an elite athlete. I participate (I hesitate to say compete, because while I wish I did, wouldn’t really be accurate) in triathlons. I certainly don’t make my living doing triathlons because I’d starve on a street corner. I’ve had all kinds of goofy “owwees”, left heel, plantar, both knees, serious cramps, right now sciatica, all eminently treatable, but when they happen the thought races through your brain, “oh no, this is it, I’ll never be able to …” Last season playing basketball in a church league, my left calf violently seized up. It was so severe that I was sure that I ruptured the achilles tendon, literally had to crawl off the basketball floor. Turned out to be a bad cramp, found a way to contend with cramps, haven’t had another and it’s going on a year now. But I remember thinking as I crawled off that floor, “this is it”, the fear was very compelling.

Thomas points out “”Ninety-five percent of the time our ailments and injuries evaporate within in a week.” And that’s been my experience, but approaching the big “60”, my physical abilities continue to decrease and the better chance that something will happen that will keep me from a high level of participation. Certainly with a professional like Jesse Thomas the fear has to be more profound. l’m a pastor my most visible function is to preach, if I somehow couldn’t speak properly anymore that would certainly put my future as a pastor in jeopardy. “…I’d be SUPER BUMMED”, writes Thomas, “in all caps for emphasis. And even though the risk is remote, I think the weight of that possibility is why my brain instantly goes to the darkest place in moments of doubt. It’s like trying to speed by a black hole without getting sucked in. According to Stephen Hawking, that’s impossible, no matter what your bike split is.”

We are all there, we all have that fear, it certainly does happen but it is rare. The possibility of such an occurrence is something that is supposed to be provided for by society, it’s certainly being abused in this day and age, but for those people with character, integrity, trust in God, and looking to live life they do not want to be “disabled”, they will fight tooth and nail against it.

There is an issue, those of us of want to keep going, are giving in to a different type of sin(s); fear, failure, relying on ourselves/idolatry, lack of faith. It also keeps us from living at the level we should be living: “So this ritualistic thinking about an athletic ending is just a way to acknowledge that fear, no matter how remote the chance that it actually materializes and to acknowledge that stupid trick that the mind can play on us. [I would interject, it’s more about our pride, more than us being victimized by our mind – Jim] And by acknowledging it [I’d say pride] we can stop our minds from dragging us into a fear cycle, make the conscious choice to disregard it and proceed in pursuit of the goal despite the possibility of failure. In that way, we CAN speed by the black hole. Where you at now, Stephen Hawking?” I would attribute Thomas’ claim not to my determination, but to the faith that God gives me to trust in Him and follow where He leads even when it might seem hopeless. He overcomes my fear, gives me the faith I need and then pushes me back to confront the world, but He is always with me.

Now the reality is that at some point I’m going to just be too old or disabled to toe up on a beach somewhere and jump in the water with a bunch of other people. (You have no idea how difficult that was to write), so then what? Could stay home, sit and bemoan my fate and just give up. I like Thomas’ perspective: “Acknowledging that worst-case-scenario, fear, also helps both Lauren and I realize that even if the ‘worst’ happened (our careers ended) in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal… Lauren and I would have to find other professions, we’d be forced to not exercise all day, every day and not go to bed at 8 pm on Saturday night because we have a big session Sunday morning. As terrible as that sounds, nobody dies, we won’t starve… We will go on as a family and probably thoroughly enjoy the next phase of our lives. And after the sting of the disappointment wears off, we’d realize that the journey was all worth it anyway,” Absolutely, we’ve lived the life, we’ve gotten all we’re likely to get out of it, God has taught us what He wants us to learn from it and now it’s time to move on. For sure I won’t like it, yea my ego and dignity will take a hit. But then He moves me on. Thomas doesn’t address the ultimate time when it will really be over, our culture today is pretty sure that death happens to everyone else, not to us. For Christians death will mean the resurrection, put in our perfected bodies, that will never be sick, will never break down, will be perfect for ever. It won’t be over, it will just be starting. I have no doubt that I will actually be able to complete an Ironman Triathlon in the resurrection. Even in eternity I will never be able to do all that the new, very physical world offers, but I will never have that fear, even if I fail, I will have infinite opportunities to grow, develop and go back and start again.

But the thing I will never understand is this fear of ever even trying because you might fail. Bad news, you will!!! Deal with it, get over it and yourself, decide what you’re going to do about it and move on. Fear of trying, like ya worship, making excuses, keeping the mediocre and even destructive and passing on what truly gives life, what truly moves us in life, what is truly life and life more abundant, I just don’t understand. This world is not the answer, it’s only a stage, it will end, do you want it to end with you whining in fear and failure, hidden away some where, to ultimate destruction? Or do you want to live the life God has given us, to live to His glory and then move on to a life that, ya there will still be failure, but it’s OK, it’s perfect life and life with abundant opportunities to succeed and move on in life? Ya, seems rather obvious doesn’t it? So why are you still sitting there obsessing?

Some thoughts on thankfulness that you can share this coming Thanksgiving.

I reblogged Dr Hamilton’s post about why gratitude is good for you, certainly there are positive physical effects when we are grateful. Too often we are not just ungrateful, we are envious and resentful of what others have. The ninth commandment is quite specific about coveting what others have.

With just a few days before Thanksgiving we should also discuss being thankful and also how we are blessed. Henry Blackaby gives a good definition as to how a Christian should be thankful: “Thankfulness is foundational to the Christian life. Thankfulness is a conscious response that comes from looking beyond our blessings to their source. As Christians, we have been forgiven, saved from death and adopted as God’s children. There could be no better reason for a grateful heart!” (Henry and Richard Blackaby “Experiencing God Day by Day” p 324). I might add that not only are we saved to eternity which is huge by itself, this gives us the hope that we are living for a purpose, that even in suffering we know that God sustains us, He provides for us, He is watching over us and even in the “worse case”, death, for those who are saved in Jesus, death delivers us to be in His presence. But we shouldn’t just skim over what God does provide for us, that we are kept safe. Sure there are times where we have less than others, there are times when we are sick, injured and even seriously incapacitated. But when you think of the possibilities it is remarkable that for the most part we are kept so healthy and capable.

I often point out that the Book of Revelation tells us that at some point in the end times, God does remove His protective hand. If we think there is evil now, just imagine what it will be like when God takes His restraining hand away and the evil that is unleashed. Blackabys write: “We, too, have been healed and made whole by the Savior. We are free to enjoy the abundant life the Savior has graciously given us. Could we, like the nine lepers, rush off so quickly to glory in our blessings without stopping to thank our Redeemer. … Our worship, prayers, service and daily life ought to be saturated with thanksgiving to God (Phil 4:6) (Ibid p 324)

Blackaby goes on to point out that we should also remember our blessings and I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to say that I faithfully recount my blessings and remember what God did for me. I’d like to say that … One way I try to be pro-active is to record in my journal the circumstances that brought on my need, the way God responded and the way that my situation is worked out by God. Even now I have a tough time thinking of specific incidents, but I know that there have been so many times and each time I often sit back in amazement and I always think “wow, I would never have seen this working out that way. Glory to God for His greatness, His wisdom and His mercy.” Even when things don’t play the way  I think they should or that does cause me loss, I still always understand what God is doing and that it is ultimately for my own good.

The Blackabys point out that our blessings often come in what seem to be “ordinary” ways and our attitude is “gee, that was nice, glad things worked out” and don’t really take time to see God’s hand. Our Gospel reading for Thanksgiving this year is about the ten lepers. Jesus healed them all, how many came to tell Jesus how grateful they were? One, one out of ten. Today, even for us in the church, even ten percent is probably a high percentage. Appreciation in the form of telling others  how much you appreciate them and offering them encouragement. I get encouragement once in awhile and often won’t really appreciate what was done. I know that I need to show more appreciation, encouragement and blessing for those around me, that I minister to. But I too often fail to do that. It does not seem hard to understand that when we bless others we show gratitude to what God does for us, and what others do for us, but most importantly be grateful to God.

We need to show gratitude, we need to show it in public, grateful to God and to those that God has put in our life. In addition, yea, we should break out that journal and write about how God has blessed us, what happened and what God did in response. We should take some time to be in wonder of what God did, what He does, and the promises of what He will do. We should go back through our journals and re-remember what God did, I should be a lot better about relating in my sermons how God has blessed me. Too often we skim over the blessings and spend too much time whining and complaining about what we think we should have, what we feel we’re entitled to.  In this time of Thanksgiving let’s focus on being grateful for the things that we often take for granted and let go of what we think we are entitled to.

Happy Thanksgiving (again don’t call it Turkey Day or I will snap). Have a great time with family and friends and take some real time to tell them what you are grateful for, especially our Lord and the family and friends He’s given us.

Holy communion, a time of great reverence and thankfulness, Jesus gives us His Body and Blood for our forgiveness and strengthening

I did a blog awhile ago on the Lord’s Supper and I have wanted to pick that discussion up in more detail because this is a real sore spot with people who try to make this out to be some sort of egalitarian issue. It’s not and I need you to put aside your prejudices, and your idea that it’s all about you, it’s not, it’s about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I intend to do a series of blogs on this, the issue is not as simple as many would like to make it out to be, the reason why I’m doing it in a series of discussions.

The Lutheran view of the Lord’s supper is unique in Christianity. There are two sacraments in the Lutheran Church, baptism, where the Holy Spirit gives the recipient new life, they are born again in Christ. The Holy Spirit becomes part of that person and that person becomes a child of God. The second is the Lord’s Supper, where we receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus. As God’s child, we receive our Savior’s Body and Blood in order to be assured of our forgiveness by Jesus’ sacrifice and to receive the nourishment that we need as I say ” to strengthen body and soul to life everlasting”.

So here’s the rub, this is exclusive, you have to be baptized, a triune baptism, and you have to be a member of the Lutheran Church. This is not to impose some arbitrary exclusivism, this is to honor and treat with great reverence the Body and Blood of our Savior. We are in agreement with Roman Catholics that the Lord’s Supper is about the true Body and Blood. We however disagree on the means, but that will be part of a later discussion in this series and yes that difference is a fundamental issue.

I don’t make membership a long process or jumping through hoops. I take people through what we are about, why we do what we do and to impress upon people that it is about God, not about us. A lot of the discussion in the previous post was in the sense of “that’s not fair to me”, “I should have what anyone else has”, “Why can’t I”, etc, etc. Basically, it’s all about me and how I should be treated and very little in terms of treating the Lord’s Body and Blood with due and extreme reverence. I am a Lutheran pastor, I take the responsibility of administering the Lord’s Body and Blood with the utmost reverence and giving me arguments that it’s all about me is not going to be received with any respect and is just not valid. After I go through instructions, we take time during worship to ask them if they understand the teachings of the Lutheran Church and if they vow to abide by these teachings. This is the sense of a wedding, as I wrote about in an earlier blog, we treat weddings as worship, taking vows, making promises in the presence of God and brothers and sisters in Jesus. We do the same with membership, that you understand what we are doing and you promise before God and brothers and sisters that you will honor and uphold these teachings. It’s not your call, it’s what Scripture tells us it is. I am retired enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. Every four years I had to re-enlist and take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I took those vows very seriously and I should, my country is important. But by far God is more important. If I take the U.S. Constitution seriously, I take God much more seriously. When people take a vow before God you need to take it seriously. At that point, knowing that they understand and accept the Church’s teaching, I with great joy welcome them into the Church and happily give them the Lord’s Body and Blood, there is no higher act, the Body and Blood that was sacrificed to pay for our sins and to give us the assurance of life everlasting in the Resurrection. Why someone thinks I should take that less than seriously is totally bizarre to me. In short, those of a Reformed, Arminian or other Protestant, non-denominational etc church do not have this understanding, why would they with any integrity still insist on taking the Lord’s Body and Blood?

It is a very deep issue and deserves much more discussion than the superficial treatment given by many other Christian churches. I welcome you to join in that discussion as I try to honor the Body and Blood in subsequent blogs.

Rev Dr Kurowski quotes the following in his book and it underscores the discussion about how our worldly attitude towards the Lord’s Supper is just not valid, God tells us what it is and that is what we honor and not our “opinion”: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the mind of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as servants for Jesus sake.” (2 Corinthians 4: 4-5)

I would highly recommend a book by Rev Dr Peter Kurowski on the discussion of close/closed communion “Close Communion Conversations”. I am sure your order will be happily received at  lawgospel@lawgospel.com  or 877-CMS-1962

Weddings are for worship and should not be a lot of money, period!

This is based on an article in the Wall Street Journal dated Oct  5, 2014 (sorry cut off the page number). The average, AVERAGE wedding in America costs $29,858. That is more then I made when I started my first job at Chase Commercial Corp. ( one wedding in ten cost between $50,000 and $100,000! This is not a typo) I’m going to say it and I’m sure someone won’t like it, but that’s insane! Turns out that the article would tend to agree. The author Brett Arends quotes research done by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, two economics professor at Emory University in Atlanta (A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration). Their findings were, at least to the current culture of excess and overkill, that: “We find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.” That is, the more you spend on the wedding/engagement, the more likely that you will not stay married.

The authors found that “women whose weddings had cost more than $20,000. ended up getting divorced 60% more often than those whose weddings were cheaper. And men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on their engagement ring got divorced 30% more often than those who spent between $500 and $2,000.” Mr Arends talks about the likelihood of an expensive wedding raising expectations, etc. He also writes about the very real possibility that the couple may feel trapped into the wedding after a lot of money has been spent and maybe now they’re having second thoughts.

The upshot is this: “The evidence suggests that the types of weddings associated with the lower likelihood of divorce are those that are relatively inexpensive but high in attendance,’ write Messrs. Francis and Mialon.” Didn’t see that coming didja? My translation; there is a lot more intimacy, a lot more feeling of being together with a modest cost wedding. You don’t start your married lives already trying to outdo people or impress people, creating problems right from the start. Instead you have a nice group of those you want at the wedding and you treat them nicely, but hey, who’s kidding who and trying to wow everyone? It’s just not the way to start a marriage.

Now I think I have a different perspective on this than most people and for that matter most clergy. I think even clergy have fallen into the trap of conceding the ceremony to other people and really just being a prop. I get it, most important day, want it to be perfect, everybody look at me, yada, yada. Feeding into the immaturity and narcissism that is so prevalent in today’s society. I think we all know a bride that felt the entire event was about her, center stage, look at me, with very little understanding of the fact that there was going to be a marriage after the wedding. The marriage is supposed to last for decades, not months.

I am a Lutheran pastor and I would probably be smitten if George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin came to me and asked me to perform their wedding. Nonetheless, it just is not going to be at their level, at least not for the ceremony. Yea, a couple is going to do what they want for a reception, but in the church I pastor, that ceremony is going to be about them coming before God and understanding that their marriage is all about living a Christian life, in all they do.

Ladies you aren’t going to like this, but a Lutheran wedding is about worship, the pastor is the center of attention, not you. You will get your moment, but the pastor’s responsibility to you and frankly to the rest of the people in attendance is to impress upon all, the seriousness of marriage and the commitment you are making before God. Isn’t that the way it should be, isn’t that the way you want your marriage to start? Versus a big show “it’s all about me”? The wedding ceremony isn’t especially long, but there is no mistaking the emphasis. You have come together before God and these witnesses to make a sacred commitment and take sacred vows. You better take them seriously from the start. It is a reminder of what marriage is about, and yes, between a man and a woman. It is entirely what God’s intention is for marriage, the union between two complementary persons, man and woman, how God created us and how we should live that union together, one flesh.

It is also worship for those attending, many of whom have probably not been in worship since, well let’s be upbeat and say since Easter or Christmas. It is a reminder to them that marriage is sacred, it is important, it’s about all the trials and tribulations of life and marriage. It’s not about giving up the first time things don’t go your way, it’s about living through all those things to God’s glory, not yours. Towards the end of the ceremony I close with this prayer and it is not just for the two who are now married, but for all the married couples in attendance: “O God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of Your love and grant that each, in reverence for Christ, fulfill the duties You have given. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary and a foretaste of our eternal home with You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Lutheran Service Book Agenda p 70, Concordia House Publishing) And then the Lord’s prayer. So ya, this isn’t some Hollywood movie, this is about marriage that is for all the right reasons and things and that’s the way it should be. Sorry to my brother pastors, but if you have a couple whose purpose is something else, just shut it off then. I didn’t go into the ministry to be popular, I am a minister of Jesus Christ and I serve Him and am here to help and serve those that I come in contact with to know Him and His will. Not to be someone’s prop at a Hollywood wedding, so George and Amal, I’d have to respectfully decline if the wedding is anything other than that. The reception, hey, you’re on your own on that.  And now I get to start wedding  counseling with a couple tonight and that’s is so great and they know the drill. I can’t wait to help them start this exciting adventure to a wonderful life in Jesus and to the glory of God.

Los santos de Jesús, los que viven con autenticidad Primera Saint Johns, 02 de noviembre 2014

Hacemos nuestro comienzo en el nombre de Dios Padre y en el nombre de Dios el Hijo y en el Nombre de Dios el Espíritu Santo. Yo voy a decir buenas santos de la mañana de York y vas a dar los buenos días en Saint Jim, buenos santos de la mañana de York …
Y todo el pueblo de Dios dijo AMEN! Celebramos hoy el Día de Todos los Santos, que es también el mismo día como Día de la Reforma que observaremos en el culto de esta tarde, el día en que Martín Lutero clavó sus 95 tesis.
Halloween, que se observó el viernes, tiene sus raíces en un día de fiesta pagano gaélico llamado Samhain [Sawin pronunciado], que es cuando se pensaba que los espíritus y hadas podían moverse con mayor facilidad en el mundo físico. Las almas de los muertos visitaban los lugares donde vivían. Halloween es la segunda fiesta más observado después de la Navidad. Para aquellos en el mundo secular que les gusta pensar en cómo pragmático y la realidad que son impulsados​​, un escritor señaló que “Halloween es él último día de fiesta de fingir … nos vestimos y ‘pretender’ ser alguien o algo distinto de nosotros mismos. .. “En otras palabras, simplemente pone de relieve la falsedad del mundo en que vivimos. un mundo que niega la realidad de un cariño, Dios Creador y trata de hacer en algo mucho mejor que no lo es. El mundo ama a preocuparse de su auto con el aspecto falso de “espiritualidad” que muchas personas hoy en día comprar fácilmente en y negar la verdadera espiritualidad que es Jesucristo. Sigo buscando, pero no encuentro donde explica que lo que la gente realmente piensa que tipo de espiritualidad va a hacer, excepto que les da la sensación de estar en control, pero nunca realmente cómo se realiza ese control. ¿Cómo funciona en términos de la eternidad? Nadie parece ser el más mínimo interés. El mundo habla un buen juego de ser “auténtico”, de autenticidad, pero que rara vez se ve, es sólo en términos de su percepción ilusoria de un mundo sin Dios y luego se preguntan por qué siempre se siente perdida, asustada y sola. Sólo hay una fuente de autenticidad y que está en Jesús. Cuando estamos a un santo en Jesús son verdaderamente auténtico, parte de la cual está siendo humilde, que es cuando confiamos en el Señor para vivir la vida que Él nos ha salvado para. Para estar seguro de ser cristiano es mucho más que las Bienaventuranzas, nuestra lectura de hoy, pero sin duda modelar autenticidad cuando hacemos nuestro mejor esfuerzo para vivir esa vida a través del poder del Espíritu Santo. Las Bienaventuranzas no son nuestras obras, que son el fruto del Espíritu Santo que está trabajando a través de nosotros. Todavía el pecado, el mundo piensa que debemos vivir en la perfección. No, los santos siempre serán personas falibles, el anciano vive en cada uno de los santos, pero el Espíritu Santo nos mueve una y otra vez a la altura de las Bienaventuranzas. El mundo trata de vivir sus propias virtudes, pero es muy claro que esas virtudes son sólo para mejorar su propia vida y el fruto de su propio espíritu, el espíritu del mundo y no del Espíritu Santo. Roy Lloyd dice lo siguiente: “… un hombre que llegó en 1953 en la estación de ferrocarril de Chicago para recibir el Premio Nobel de la Paz. Como él bajó del tren … como las cámaras destellaron y funcionarios de la ciudad se acercaron … él les dio las gracias cortésmente. Entonces él pidió ser excusado por un momento. Caminó a través de la multitud hacia el lado de una mujer de negro anciano que lucha con dos grandes maletas. Él los recogió, sonrió y la escoltó hasta el autobús, la ayudó a subir y le deseó un buen viaje. Luego Albert Schweitzer se volvió hacia la multitud y se disculpó por mantenerlos esperando. Se ha informado de que un miembro del comité de recepción le dijo a un reportero, “Esa es la primera vez que vi un pie sermón. ‘” Schweitzer fue un teólogo alemán, luterano, un organista que estudió Bach, un médico, un médico misionero a África. Fue galardonado con el Premio Nobel de la Paz por su filosofía de “Reverencia por la Vida”, se evidencia en su fundación de un hospital en Gabón alrededor de la vuelta del siglo XX. Es interesante cómo un santo de Cristo, que produce tanta fruta como un discípulo cristiano, por lo realizado y aún en una gran multitud, era el único que se dio cuenta de una anciana que necesitaba ayuda, entonces y allí, para hacer su próxima conexión para su viaje. Un simple acto de un hombre que sirvió a nuestro Señor de una manera tan magníficas, un gran santo de Cristo.
David Kinneman fue el orador en la conferencia en Carolina del Norte que asistí. Una cosa que él regresó a una y otra vez en su presentación fue que las generaciones más jóvenes de hoy en día y, a mi juicio la mayoría de la gente en el mundo, están buscando, es authenticty, genuinness. Ellos saben y nosotros, los que están en Cristo saben que el mundo no es genuino. Todas las instituciones del mundo fallan en repetidas ocasiones y, sin embargo tratar de convencer de su autoridad y autenticidad, incluso mientras ellos imponen en nuestra sociedad y en repetidas ocasiones fallan. Todos nosotros podemos relacionar con la forma en que podemos ver a través del fino velo de la hipocresía que nos rodea. La iglesia es a menudo acusado de hipocresía y, a menudo por una buena razón. Tratamos de convencer al mundo de que somos santos perfectos en Jesús y sin embargo nuestro intento se hizo añicos cuando nos fijamos en los santos verdaderos. Pablo llamó a sí mismo el jefe de todos los pecadores. Él no dijo que en un intento de que parecen ser piadoso, él sabía de los pecados que había cometido en contra de Jesús y su iglesia y él los reconoció y continuó a producir el fruto del Espíritu Santo. No es como una especie de forma de expiar sus pecados. ¿Por qué? Sus pecados han sido pagados a la Cruz, Pablo sabía que no había nada que pudiera añadir a sacrificio de Jesús por nosotros. Jesús pagó por nuestros pecados a través de Su sufrimiento y sacrificio. Nosotros, como sus santos, somos salvos en Su sacrificio, sino como sus santos que fielmente seguimos el liderazgo, ánimo, esperanza y promesa del Espíritu Santo, que es la única manera en que podemos vivir las Bienaventuranzas. Reconocemos nuestras faltas, nuestros pecados. Cuando tratamos de convencer al mundo de que somos perfectos, y sobre todo el mal del mundo, el mundo puede ver a través de nosotros. Pero cuando reconocemos que la única manera de que somos perfectos es a través de Jesús y sólo a través de su gracia y el perdón, que todavía luchamos y todavía fallamos en el pecado, entonces el mundo conozca la salvación a través de Jesús.
Estamos valioso, nosotros somos su creación y somos salvos por Él a través de Cristo. Tenemos que recordar lo valioso que somos para Dios. Juan escribe: “ver qué tipo de amor [que es el amor ágape} el Padre nos ha dado: que seamos llamados hijos de Dios; y así estamos. La razón por la cual el mundo no sabe de nosotros es que no lo conocía … pero sabemos que cuando él se manifieste, seremos semejantes a él, .. “Vamos a ser sus santos y vamos a ser perfecto, no en nosotros mismos, sino en Aquel que murió por nosotros, y debido a que somos valiosos para el Padre y Él ama a sus hijos con la expresión más alta del amor.
Dr. Lutero escribió: “Mañana tengo que dar una conferencia sobre la embriaguez de Noé [Génesis 9: 20-27]; así que deben beber suficiente esta noche para poder hablar de que la maldad como alguien que sabe por experiencia. “Lutero era auténtica, no te estoy diciendo que imitar autenticidad a ese grado, pero es reconocer que somos tentados y ocasionalmente fallar.
Dado que los ancianos, los santos en Cristo se reunieron alrededor del trono de Dios en el cielo, como leemos en Apocalipsis 07:12, los santos alabando a Dios y lo adoran, vamos a tirar hacia fuera las letras insertadas en su boletín y Alabemosle aquí y ahora: Te amo Señor, letra de Petra …
La paz de Dios que sobrepasa todo entendimiento, guardará vuestros corazones y vuestros pensamientos en Cristo Jesús. Shalom y Amin.

Where are you being guided to in Jesus? First St Johns, York, Pa. October 26, 2014

Please click on the above link to hear the audio of this sermon

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 led by and follow the Holy Spirit said … AMEN
Paul’s charge to the Thessalonians tells us that: “…we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thess 2:12) Those who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ are constantly being guided, are constantly being charged to walk, to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Marge and I were moved to pick up our lives in Massachusetts to go to St Louis for a season, complete education and then to be led to where? We didn’t know, but as things unfolded and we were faithful, we were guided to be in York, Pa. Dr Jerry Kieschnick asked me, as I received my call papers if I knew where York, Pa was? Not really, but in our faith we didn’t question where York was, we were led here and have been made a part of this great family in Jesus here in York.
On this Reformation Day, we remember Dr Martin Luther, posting the 95 Thesis on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on All Saints Day. As I’ve said before, Dr Luther wasn’t looking for some kind of showdown, too many times we see him depicted as a Christian version of a gunfighter at the OK Corral. That was not his intent. He was a brilliant man who never stopped studying, as he studied, the more he realized that there were problems with the doctrines that the Roman church was teaching. He was a teacher at the time and the more he had to deal with these doctrines, the more he felt led to start a journey of inquiry. He never anticipated what would happen as he nailed his document to that door. His whole intention was to raise these issues in a genuinely collegial sense. He wasn’t looking for a brawl, a battle, but I have no doubt that God led Luther to do this in order to raise issues about God’s church that demanded discussion. The Roman church, at the time, chose not to discuss those issues. Luther wrote: “In the year 1516. I began to write against the pope. In the year 1518 Doctor Staupitz released me from obedience to my order and left me alone at Augsburg when I had been summoned before Emperor Maximilian and the pope’s legate, who was then at the place. In the year 1519 Pope Leo excommunicated me from the church and so I was released a second time. In the year 1521 Emperor Charles excommunicated me from his empire and so I was released a third time. But the Lord took me up.”1
Many times when we are led to leave, by God, we’re told to leave by the world. Luther has the distinction to be told to leave three times, you think you have it rough, you may be told to leave your work, your school, wherever, because of your Christian beliefs, but probably only once. Luther got “shown the door” by the head of the Augustian Order where he had lived and served as a monk, by the head of the Roman Catholic Church and then by the head of state of the largest empire in the world. Luther could honestly say that he had been thrown out of better places then most people. Sometimes to be thrown out of places that are just frankly not good to be in to begin with, is a badge of honor. No one wants the shame of being publicly asked to leave, but afterwards you realize that being thrown out was the right thing, was something that needed to happen in order to glorify God, then so be it and God speed.
It is then usually a case of not just being led somewhere, but also a commentary on being thrown out of somewhere. Jesus told His disciples that they would be thrown out of houses and towns; “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” (Matt 10:14, Mark 6:11 and Luke 9:5), each of the Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels, do not tell all of the same events or sayings, but apparently they were all so aware of the fact that they would get tossed out of places, that they all made a point of relating this direction of Jesus. Did that mean that they had failed, or were somehow not completely adequate disciples? No, it could well mean that Jesus was making sure everyone knew that they had a chance to hear the Gospel, if they rejected it, well too bad for them, Matthew 11:23-29: “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” If any place had its chance it was Capernaum. Jesus had been led there, most of the disciples lived and worked there, all sorts of miracles and preaching went on there. What happened? Luke 4: starting at verse 17, do you remember what Jesus did? After reading Isaiah He declared that He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me…” Jesus was the anointed of God, the Messiah. Their response? Woe, wait a minute there, this is Joseph’s son, He’s saying that He’s the Messiah? No, I don’t think so. Jesus responded, yea, kinda figured, because no prophet is acceptable in his hometown, and that is when the people in the synagogue tried to hustle Jesus down to a cliff to throw Him off of it. Yea Jesus got run out of Dodge, but did that make Jesus find a corner to sit and cry? “They threw me out of my hometown, wah, what will I do?
Sometimes we are moved as Paul described to the Thessalonians. Now Paul had certainly been moved around by the Holy Spirit, a lot of places we don’t know about. But he tells the Thessalonians: “…like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2: 11). The Greek word Paul used peripate,w like the English can mean how we conduct ourselves and to also literally walk. No doubt Paul expected that some of those in Thessalonica that he was preaching to would be led on their own literal walk or journey.
Luther was led on a walk, to initiate that walk he was thrown out of somewhere else. The door was closed on him at the monastery he was at the church he preached at and even the country he lived in. Clearly God was using an exclamation point to emphasize that it was time for Luther to step out in his Christian faith. That wasn’t Luther’s perception, no doubt he was otherwise comfortable and at home where he was. God emphatically moved Luther so that Luther was left without any choice. He had to pursue the issues that he raised. These issues weren’t going to be in terms of some hypothetical debate, something that maybe would result in changes or maybe not. No! God didn’t leave any room for Luther to maneuver, there was only a straight line and that was to see through the establishment of a church that would faithfully preach the Word of God. A church that would be faithful to Scripture, God’s Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The question before you is this: Are you truly listening to what God is saying to you? Are you faithful in prayer, not the kind of prayer that’s “OK God listen up, this is what I need from You and what I need You to do!” But prayer that is also asking and seeking God’s will in your life, where he wants you to walk to? I doubt that most, if any of you, are being asked to pick up and leave York. Dick and Gloria have already gone and returned from their mission trip in Liberia. But, God might be guiding some of you to short term mission in Africa, Haiti, Guatemala, or maybe to Helen Thackston charter school, your next door neighbor, the man or woman in the cube next to you at work, to a young man or woman who may be making bad decisions and needs someone to turn them to Jesus. You might have to walk across the world or across your lawn.
Ya, here we go, take out that journal and pray over it and listen for God’s guidance. Where is He directing you to and who is He directing you to witness to or to serve, to faithfully build a relationship with in order for them to come to know the love of Christ? What comfortable place are you being asked to move out of? You may have to stand up against the powers, but the Holy Spirit will give you the words.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

Celebration, Feasting, Drinking, because we are His and that’s something to celebrate Isaiah 25: 6-9, Matthew 22: 1-14 First St Johns October 12, 2014

For the audio of this sermon please click on the play button

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 God’s children celebrated and said AMEN
Feasting, that is really about? … Celebrating! Absolutely! Many churches have banquets to celebrate the year, and the ministry God leads them to perform, to recognize those who serve their church and in a festive way God’s love and delight in us. I’m told that the men here at First St Johns used to bring a keg of beer into the meeting room in the school building. I’m not encouraging the idea, but hey we’re not Baptists! Martin Luther certainly did nothing to discourage drinking of beer. In our reading in Isaiah, the Hebrew word that is used for banquet is hT,v.mi ((mishtah) which means “feast, drink, banquet”. I’m not saying “hey, let’s go get a keg”, I’m not saying no, just no stupid. The ancient Israelites would have readily understood that part of what Isaiah is describing as a banquet would be drinking, probably wine. We live in a world where fear is so prevailing. Yea, we celebrate, but it’s always with sort of detachment, at arm’s length with each other. We get to celebrate once a week! Too many people see it as a chore, an obligation to be fulfilled. We get to be in His presence every Sunday morning and that is a celebration. I hope it comes across to you, that when I lead worship I’m doing it in a way that is enthusiastic, excited, I get to be here, I get to lead worship in this magnificent place, I get to tell everyone how great God our Father is and what His Son Jesus Christ has done for us. If that’s not worthy of celebration, well what is? We can get into a discussion about how we worship. Many people would claim that liturgical worship isn’t “celebration”, that it’s just a rote way of doing the same thing. We’ve let the world tell us how to “celebrate”, we forget what celebration is in the worship of Jesus.
A “Satanic Black Mass” was held recently in Oklahoma City. Fox News noted that “dozens” participated in the mass, while those who stood opposed to the “mass” far outnumbered the participants. Kudos to the Roman Catholic Archbishop who held Holy Mass at a local church, that was attended by over 1200 people, almost a hundred times those who attended the Satanic Mass. The Archbishop’s message was something to truly celebrate in the face of the world’s depraved observance: “as Christians “we know that Christ conquered Satan. The war has been won, Christ has conquered, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes to reign forever.”1
Notice how the world mocks Christianity? They mock the mass, the liturgy, worship like we Lutherans conduct. You never see them mock worship like those of, let’s just say those who are all happy-clappy, telling you that it’s all about you and being “happy” and being entertainment versus what we do, which is worship. I truly think of our worship as a time of joy, there should be exuberance and celebration, I feel joyful and enthusiastic when I lead worship and I hope you will tell me if I’m not being joyful or it’s not coming across. I don’t see worship as a chore, I see it as a couple who are members here told me, “I get to come to church and worship”. The rest of the world holds back in fear and worry, they are afraid that they will be criticized or that their dignity will be affected. We get to celebrate every week and as I greet people as they leave worship I see joy, I see enthusiasm. But then they go back into the world, they let the world’s agenda dampen their joy and enthusiasm. They let the world’s message beat them down, “that wasn’t ‘fun’, that was boring, rote ritual”. No it’s not! We get to remember all that has been done for us, all that we have to be joyful and thankful for. Why do we let the world impose on us with its cynical and depressing attitude?
It’s often because we really believe the world’s message, that it’s a scary, fearful, ratrace, and now that you’re back in that world, you have to put aside that church stuff and realize how scary it really is.
It’s not! Unless you let it be. We have the promises, grace and love of Christ in our lives. There’s nothing to be afraid of! Jesus tells His disciples in John 16: 33, just before He is to be crucified, that yes, difficult times are ahead; “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The world can’t harm you, the world’s opinion doesn’t matter, I have overcome the world and since I am in you and you are in me and I have overcome the world, you have what I have given you, what I have promised you, joy, confidence, the knowledge that this world is not the real thing, it is not genuine. What the world says and does is phoney, only what I say, the Lord and Savior of your life is genuine, what you receive here in worship is genuine and you should celebrate that and take that attitude back into the world. We need to push back against the world. We are all so afraid of rejection, “oh here comes that crazy Bible thumper”. Heavens, that takes away our dignity. At last week’s conference someone made the comment that there is always push back against our message in Jesus. D’uh! Of course there is, how could it be otherwise? Jesus told us there would be. The conference was centered on our ministry to younger generations, that these people have left the church. Why? I submit because there is a serious lack of genuineness in the church. Why believe something that no one really stands up for and asserts that this is what is really important. No one is going to buy something that they feel is not genuine in its claims.
We don’t celebrate our faith and our worship, we don’t show what it means to be genuine in our discipleship and then we wonder why no one is buying. Those in the world know how phoney and irrelevant the world’s institutions are. They are looking for the genuine and we have it right here and we get to celebrate it in worship every week. I submit to you that instead of this sanctuary and building being so empty the rest of the week, that we come for other worship, Matins, confession, prayer, other small groups. What else can we do to make our worship more genuine, every day, not just on Sunday? Let’s spend more time in prayer, studying Scripture, sharing our faith with brothers and sisters and those in the world. That’s what the younger generations wants and they know, that when it’s done right, not the phoney stuff the world tries to convince us is “church”, that it does produce joy, peace, comfort and assurance that God is with us, that He loves us 24/7, that He wants what is best for us. That’s why Satanists mock what we have and not the phoney worship. But we take it for granted, we let the world drive us down, instead of us going out and showing the world what true joy and love is.
Isaiah is telling the Israelites, this is what’s going to happen. It’s not some vague metaphor, it is genuine, true, giving hope and assurance. When you really let it become part of you, realize what God is promising, you should be at least this high off the ground (holding your fingers at least two inches apart). God is going to provide us a feast of rich food of well aged wine. He’s telling this to a people who often live hand to mouth, we get plenty of food, they never had enough, God is telling them ‘you will have a gift far beyond your imagination, you will have joy and all you could want.’ Jesus is telling us that we are not worthy of His great wedding feast, but you know what? He wants us to have it, He wants us to have a time of joy and plenty beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Even now we are so blessed, provided with so much, and yet we have no joy. Please remember what we’ve been given, share it with others, the joy grows only when you share it with others and then you see the effect of their joy and how it builds yours in Christ our Savior. Spend some time journaling on all that you have to be joyful for.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

Why I keep trying to participate in triathlons.

Someone recently asked in a blog and at least a couple of people asked during the race a couple of days ago “why do we keep on doing this?”

I’ve been trying to do two triathlons a year since 1985. Can’t say I’ve succeeded, but I’ve come close.  A recent goal has developed in trying to do a race in every state. So far I’ve gone from Maine to Virginia going south and to Kansas in the west with the exception of Indiana. Haven’t figured out that one yet, but God seems to provide. I certainly try to keep in shape by challenging myself by doing two a year. But to stop would be conceding that I’m getting too old. It’s too easy to slip into some comfortable, yet tedious routine.  Who gets up at 4am to be on time at a race? It doesn’t hurt me and if anything puts me in the company of those who do want to strive to push themselves.  I’m trying to put this in terms of honoring God of doing it for His glory, all I can really come up with is that, like everything He gives me all I have and I dishonor Him by not using what He gives me to the best of my ability and to His glory. Maybe He has only given me mediocre talents to push me beyond them. (Not so sure I’m doing that, but give me credit for determination)

I’m still capable, I still have other goals. I’d love to do “Escape to Bermuda” and a race in Puerto Rico, maybe Cancun, Israel,  Belize. As long as I can, I should keep doing it, if God has given me the strength, stamina, perseverance, I’d also like to think I’m honoring and doing this to His glory. But yea there’s an element of ego. I was not the oldest person on the course by any means, so it can be done further in age then I am now, so why stop? Why give up on something that keeps me some what fit, keeps me in company with people who challenge me and lift me up and in which I still have other goals? So I guess the real question is why stop?

Spirit, mind and body

Thanks to the York County Council on Aging for a great “Seniors Game”. I have to admit that it sort of bristles that I’m “old” enough to be in anything that refers to “seniors”, however the YCCA, AARP, various other organizations posit that I am “old” enough. It was fun though and I did pretty well, even won in backstroke, which I’ve never won anything at. So I won three silvers and one bronze, 100 yard free, 50 yard back, 50 yard breast and 100 yard breast.
The entire competition went awhile, started at 10am and ended at 3pm, but considering the events and age groups the volunteers made sure things went off bang, bang. Gave me time to chat with new friends, get some good tips, allowed me to reflect back to the competitions I did in school/YMCAs. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a swim meet and there was plenty of time to take it in and get that old feeling from many years ago.
We are very physical beings, when we die, assuming the Lord Jesus doesn’t return before then, we will be in spirit, but only for a short time. We were made to be physical beings. God put Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden intending that they should live there in a perfect, very physical world. That is what the resurrection will be. We will live in a world much like it is today, but Jesus will be our very visible light, we will be sinless, our bodies will be strong, there will be no illness, no physical disability or death. We will be as we were intended to be until we undermined God’s work with our sin and corruption.
Point being we were made to be very physical, in body, to use our minds for God’s glory and to have a spirit that transcends the world and by the Holy Spirit is guided into eternal life. As God’s children in Jesus we are responsible to use the gifts associated with body, mind and spirit to our best abilities and to the glory of God.
So yea, I try to make a good witness by trusting in God, being led by Him and doing the things that bring glory to Him in all the ways He made me, to rip off the YMCA, in spirit, mind and body. Having swum for YMCA teams, been a member, lifeguard, swimming instructor, phys ed instructor, aquatic director and filling various and sundry other jobs at the “Y”, and being a Christian organization, it’s always great to see that motto and remember all the things that God made us for.
It was fun to compete, it was fun to win some, but it was fun to just have a little God given ability and use it as He intended and maybe, just maybe be an example to someone else who might just decide; “it’s time to get back in there and do something to make myself stronger in body, mind and spirit.” I hope you will join me and share how you have decided, to make yourself stronger in all the gifts God gave you.

You don’t have to win, place but just show up for the challenge, the fellowship and to His glory.