Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

Leave a comment

New Jerusalem

Reading: Revelation 21: 10 & 22-27

In our community, and perhaps in yours, there is a large diversity of places of worship.  There are not only a variety of Christian denominations but other faiths as well.  In a smaller community the diversity is probably less and in a larger city the diversity is probably greater.  Diversity implies a positive.  Diversity adds variety.  Diversity can also bring out our differences and can create divides.  Yet we must remember that our call is to go out and make new disciples of all nations.  When we do this, we must do this in love.

Today’s passage speaks of a time when all will worship God alone.  When the new Jerusalem comes down, it will be heaven here on earth.  There will be no places of worship because all everywhere will worship God alone.  His glory will light up the city all the time; there will be no night.  In God there is no darkness.  The city’s gates will never be closed.  The text says that nothing impure will enter the city.  All in the new Jerusalem will be holy as He is holy.

One of my favorite parts of confirmation every year is our trip to a large city.  We visit a mosque, a synagogue, and an Orthodox Church.  At each house of worship we meet with the leader who shares about their faith and answers any questions we have.  Each visit builds our understanding of others who are not like us in our beliefs.  It also offers us an opportunity to talk to about why we believe what we believe.  It is a great experience that enriches my life and my faith every year.  After each stop I pray for God’s word in Christ to one day be revealed to them. Knowing God’s plan for eternity, may we pray for all not on a journey towards the new Jerusalem to join us on our walk as God calls all of us heavenward.

Leave a comment


Reading: John 14: 25-29

As we go through life, especially when we are younger, we find people that mentor and shape us.  They are people who  see something in us worth investing some of themselves in.  They usually are older and have been through a little bit more of life so they carry wisdom and expertise with them.  They are kind and loving and sacrificial people.  Mentors help us navigate our careers, our families and relationships, our faith.  If we have been mentored we are likely to become a mentor ourselves.

Jesus himself was a mentor.  For the disciples and undoubtedly others who followed Him, Jesus mentored many in their faith and how to live it out.  Indirectly Jesus continues to mentor each of us as we read His Word and apply it to our lives.  But Jesus also knew that the disciples and eventually we would need more than memories or the written recording of them.  He knew we would need an active and alive presence to continue to mold, shape, and guide us.  So Jesus gave mankind the gift of the Holy Spirit.  To all who call on Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Spirit comes and dwells within them.  Once there the Spirit is the constant presence of Jesus, reminding us and teaching us about Jesus and the example He set.

As we think about the people who have poured into our lives, at some point we must also begin to become aware of those around us who could use someone to mentor and shape them.  Other people have poured into us so that one day we too could pour into others.  As we seek this our may we be open to how the Spirit guides and leads us in this as well, always remaining a willing and humble servant.

Leave a comment

Love with All

Reading: John 14: 23-24

When asked by the teacher of the Law what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded with two and they both had to do with love.  The first was to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  This is a tall order.  In my mind the Word ‘all’ means 100% of the time with 100% of my being.  I can certainly love God a lot most of the time, but all?  The second was to love your neighbor as self but soon became love neighbor as I first loved you.  In the first form the love was a human love.  When Jesus added “as I first loved you”, it took it up a notch.  Jesus loved all people all of the time.  There is that ‘all’ word again.

In today’s passage, Jesus reveals one of the reasons we are to love God.  When we love God, we obey God.  If this is the choice we make and the path we try to walk daily, then the second command becomes easier.  Jesus promises that when we obey and follow Him out of love, then He will come and dwell in our hearts.  It is a much deeper connection to God when all we do is done out of that love that now dwells in our heart as the Spirit leads and guides us in living love out.  It is miles beyond trying to love God and neighbor because that’s what the Law or other parts of the Bible says we are supposed to do.

And in reality we struggle at times to love God with all that we are.  We drift, we doubt, things don’t go our way, we get too busy.  We also have a hard time loving that guy or a girl like that.  We are unique people and sometimes another’s uniqueness is hard for us to understand or to be around.  The goods news, though, is that when we fall short of ‘all’, it is not the end.  Not even close.  Part of “as I first loved you” is His never-ending promise of love.  It is a love that wipes away our failure and covers it with grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  Whether through prayer, time in the Word, in worship, or any other means that reconnects us to God, we can again walk in His love, feel His Spirit dwelling in our hearts, and again begin to walk seeking to love God with all that we are and to love others as He first and still loves us. ūüôā

Leave a comment

Faithful to Minister

Reading: Acts 16: 13-15

When Paul and company arrive in Philippi, they go down to the river because they think it may be a place to pray.  The city has no synagogue or church.  They find some women there praying and they strike up a conversation with them.  God is continuing to guide and lead Paul as he continues to work to spread the gospel.

It turns out these women are praying to God, so they are open to hearing Paul’s witness about Jesus. ¬†Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul’s words hit home in one of the women’s hearts. ¬†Lydia and her household believe and are baptized into Christ. ¬†This encounter leads her to open her home to these traveling evangelists. ¬†Lydia provides the base of operations from which Paul and companions can continue to share the gospel.

Each day of our lives God and the Holy Spirit lead us to opportunities to share our faith in Jesus Christ with others. ¬†Every day. ¬†It may be that our faithful witness comes simply through how we live our lives. ¬†Those around us experience Jesus simply by being in our company. ¬†At other times we are called to verbally witness to our faith. ¬†One of those who have been observing may finally ask by we are so loving, caring, compassionate… ¬†Or maybe one is finally open to the conversation we have tried to start a few times and God leads us in the witnessing to our faith.

There are many people searching for meaning in and a center for their lives. ¬†God is the only one who can truly fill these needs in us and only He can bring true contentment, peace, understanding, … ¬†Paul’s vision was of a man calling him to Macedonia. ¬†When he arrived, God placed Lydia before him. ¬†Paul was faithful to minister to who God placed before him. ¬†May we too be willing to minister to whomever God places before us and to witness to our faith to any and all that God brings our way.

Leave a comment

Step Out

Reading: Acts 16: 9-12

When was the last time you felt God calling you to do something or when you felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit?  Depending on how in tune we are to our relationship with God, the guidance and nudges and whispers can come frequently.  These connections are like everything else in our lives: the more we try and allow ourselves to hear and sense God, the better we become at sensing and hearing His presence and guidance in our lives.

In the text today, Paul has a vision calling him to a new place of ministry.  He had been struggling with where to go next so this vision would have been like an answer to prayer.  For Paul the call was clear as day.  They get up in the morning, pack up, and head out for Macedonia.  New place, new people, new challenges.  Lots of unknowns.  Paul did not hesitate.  As one deeply in tune with God and the Spirit, God spoke and Paul went.

God sometimes calls us in a similar way. ¬†He puts a call upon our heart and we feel the tugs to respond. ¬†Or maybe it comes in an almost audible whisper from the Holy Spirit or in a nudge we can almost physically feel. ¬†There is no denying that we all sense, feel, hear God’s calling and leading. ¬†And there is no denying that at times we ignore, dismiss, … this call and leading. ¬†We allow the fears, doubts, and unknowns to keep us in our safe, comfortable, easy place. ¬†Step out. ¬†We need to step out in faith and with the confidence that God goes before and that the Spirit walks alongside us.

We were each created to be used by God. ¬†Each of us was created with our own gifts and talents for a purpose. ¬†As we allow God and the Spirit to move in our lives, we are freed to experience and share the amazing power of God transforming our lives and the lives of those around us. ¬†Step out and step into God’s plan for your life.

Leave a comment


Reading: Psalm 67

Psalm 67 contains a common prayer pattern.  In the opening verses, the psalmist speaks of God’s grace, blessings, and light coming to mankind.  Through these gifts, mankind is drawn in and comes to know God’s ways so that salvation may come.  For us, each time of extended prayer should begin the same way, by recognizing how God has worked in our lives and by allowing this to draw us close to Him.

Then the Psalm moves on to our role: praising God, being glad, and singing for joy.  When we praise God, we are lifting Him up to His rightful place of majesty and power.  In this is the implication of our smallness and our dependence upon God.  We praise partly because we recognize our absolute need for God and also because He is just and because He guides our lives accordingly.  Our praise and thanksgiving flow out of our recognition of His activity in our life so it is a natural second phase of our extended prayers.

The Psalm wraps up by recognizing that the land yields it’s harvest as God blesses us.  In the psalmist day, the literal land was the source of life for the people.  It was a very agrarian society.  For us today, we rely on the harvest of the land too but most of us are several steps removed from the process.  Today, for most of us the figurative land is our place of employment, our homes, our relationships with each other.  In this sense, God continues to bless us richly with all we need.  Within this also is a recognition that all comes from God; none of our blessings come solely through us.  There is an interdependence between God and our lives.  It is through our relationship with Him that we come to see how much God provides for us.  This third part of our extended prayers is a time to recognize our connection to God.

By daily praying through these three phases or parts, we come to know God more deeply and begin to be daily transformed by His power.  As we recognize His hand in our lives, as we offer our praises for this activity, and as we acknowledge our connection to and need for God’s presence and blessings in our lives, our faith deepens.  This day may we each offer a prayer like Psalm 67 and through it draw closer to our God.

Leave a comment

Welcoming God

Reading: Acts 11: 11-18

Peter at first was hesitant to see how God’s love and grace could extend outside the Israelites.  Centuries of being “God’s chosen people” and many laws and practices that kept the Israelites separate from all other people were all that Peter knew.  History had shown that times of intermarriage and forming alliances always Drew the Israelites away from God.

Yet when he felt led by the Holy Spirit, Peter listened to something new.  He chose to follow where he felt God was leading him.  Peter’s powerful experience at Pentecost had changed him.  Through the subsequent indwelling of the Spirit, Peter was being transformed from the inside out.  The old was being removed as God was at work within Peter to help him more fully understand the vast scope and reach of God’s love.

Change was hard for Peter.  It went against what he knew and was comfortable with.  Each of us do not like change either.  But often change is for the good.  In the end, Peter comes to see that God loves all people, not just the Israelites.  He set aside what he knew to welcome in what God knew.

Today in church we will ask people to do just this.  Two services that sing hymns will be asked to sing praise songs.  Three services that rarely see dramas will be asked to wrestle with a skit that challenges with a difficult message.  People that are used to adults preaching will be asked to hear the Word proclaimed by two high school Seniors.  It will be something new, something different.  But moved by God’s presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will worship together and will each meet God in a powerful way.  For this I say, thanks be to God!

Leave a comment

Love as He Loved

Reading: John 13: 31-35

If it is really lived out, Jesus command to love one another as He first loved us is hard.  I imagine as this new command first landed on the disciples’ ears, they recalled good things Jesus did – healings, teachings, even things not recorded in the Bible.  But as they continued to think about this new command, maybe their thoughts drifted back to when Jesus healed ‘that guy’ or when He offered loving words to a lowly Samaritan.  Who knows what their prejudices, hang ups, or inner struggles were – we all have them.

We too can spend time with Jesus by reading and meditating on the Word.  Through time with the Word we come to see and understand what Jesus meant by this new command.  We may not understand the ancient cultural reasons why a Jew and Samaritan did not talk to one another but we can see that Jesus offered Himself to all He encountered.  He did not judge or look down on or condemn anyone.  Even in His confrontations and exchanges with the religious authorities there is a feeling that Jesus is truly sad that they don’t get it.  Each time they return to come at Him again, He tries to continue to teach them, to help them see that He really is the Messiah.

The kind of people who came to mind for the disciples and the religious authorities that always came at Jesus are like the people who make it hard for us to love all as Jesus loved.  Yet hard is not impossible.  We have an excellent example to follow in He who gave the command.  We will at times fail.  But the key is to realize our failure, to repent, and to resume the journey.  When we seek to love all as Jesus first loved us, our love will grow and we come to love one we just couldn’t love just the other day.  May our love grow and grow as we come to be more and more and more like Jesus.

Leave a comment

Christ’s Love

Reading: John 13: 31-35

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another”.  For Jesus, these were not just words.  He lived them out each and every day with the disciples and the stranger alike.  The love Jesus exhibited was not passive; it sought out engagement and connection.  His love was not just for those that loved Him; it was also for those who opposed and persecuted Him and even for those who betrayed and crucified Him.  Jesus’ love was not given out with the expectation of something in return or with a thought of self-promotion; it was given freely, without any strings attached and with absolutely no consideration of self.

How this seems so against human nature!  In our day and age of ” just do it” and living for pleasure in this moment, Jesus’ love is radical and unexpected.  When we share His love with one who is in need, a common question is ‘Why?’. Another is ‘what do you want from me?’. Both are typical of people living in only the world’s culture and not ever experiencing the love of Christ.  When one explains that we are seeking to love others as Jesus first loved us, it is the beginning of understanding or at least questioning.  It is perhaps the beginning of a journey towards Christ.

In our world so filled with sin and evil, being this example of Christ’s love is so important.  For many, the self-pleasing and instant gratification type of love is all that they know.  It is essential that as followers of Jesus Christ, we abundantly offer self-giving and eternity impacting love.  It is a love that draws others into itself.  This day may we seek ways to offer Christ’s love to our world so in need.

Leave a comment


Reading: Revelation 21: 1-6

Our world and sometimes our lives can be filled with pain and death and oppression and injustice.  Sometimes these are things we must endure and get through.  Sometimes they are things from afar that we may be able to alleviate through our engagement with the causes or by providing relief in some form.  And sometimes they are things we see from afar and are powerless to affect the pain, suffering…

In Revelation we read that in the new heaven and earth, all will be made new.  Coupled with the promise that there will be no more pain, tears, death, or mourning, the vision is for a place where all is good, where happiness and joy abound.  It will be a place where all are content and where God’s love fills everyone and everything.

Sometimes, when one is locked in a deep struggle where there seems to be no hope and where there seems to be no way out, this promise of all things being made new is all one has to hold onto.  We are reminded that God’s word is trustworthy and true.  One day all will be made new and right.  God also reminds us that He is the beginning and the end.  This also means that He created each one of us and that He longs for us to return to Him, to dwell with Him.

When these are our promises, we can always look to the future and find at least this sliver of hope.  In our lives we will draw on these promises from time to time.  We will also have opportunities to share these promises with others.  May we ever look to our everlasting God and ever seek to share His promises with the lost and hurting.