Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You got that right!

In multicultural ministry I hear the following many times.

“Jesus was a great teacher, but it was only his followers who made him divine. Jesus never acknowledged that he was divine!”

I gently speak truth and refer to the following scripture and others:

Luke 22: 67 “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me,68 and if I asked you, you would not answer.
69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

Many, especially in other cultures are taught that Jesus was made divine by those who worshipped him, but never actually was. The truth is plain, but even plain truth is difficult to swallow. Jesus at the point of being on trial was being asked questions that if answered a certain way would mean certain death. Jesus told them “you got that right!”, when asked if he was the son of God.

Can we get this right?

Can we gently help others overcome what they were taught and know as truth?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passover

So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders.” Dt. 26:8

Four Questions.

Why Passover is different from all other nights can be answered by even the children of those of Hebrew heritage!

“On all other nights we eat bread or matzah.
On this night why do we eat only matzah?
On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables.
On this night why do we eat only bitter herbs?
On all other nights we do not dip our vegetables even once.
On this night why do we dip them twice?
On all other nights we eat our meals sitting or reclining.
On this night why do we eat only reclining?”

If you want answers, just ask anyone of Hebrew heritage. Even the children know this one.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Inspiration!

It is an amazing blessing to receive inspiration for a sermon, especially the most important sermon of the year.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Try this!

Giving thanks moves one forward.

Desiring and receiving pity has opposite effect.

If someone really, really needs something or someone, try giving thanks for what is needed/wanted instead of being pitiful about the situation.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What’s it for?

Good question, after asking the meat man at the grocery store for small pieces of lamb shank bone.

“It is for a ceremonial Seder plate. Our church is doing a Messianic Passover and we need them on the plates.”
Moments later he handed me a package, perfectly done, without a price. I quizzed him on the price, he just patted me on the shoulder, smiled, and said, “It’s on the house, it’s for a good purpose”.

It was like, his meat cutting was momentarily elevated to such a higher purpose, and he was filled with gratitude, and graciously gave.

I am always pleasantly blessed to see the affect of doing the work of the Lord has on a person. There is a lot of ‘mundane and insignificant’ work that goes on surrounding any spiritual endeavor, and it can become routine if a person get’s cranky. I had just met a cranky follower of Christ at a florist as I was picking up my palms for Sunday, who was in the latter description. The person seemed to have been tasked with a few too many things for their churches Easter Week services, and was less than positive. The florist folks picked up on it. Thankfully, today, I wasn’t cranky, and it was my joy to remain pleasant, and my Easter blessing, was returned with gracious gratitude from those who had prepared our bundle of palms.

May we all remember how blessed we are to offer ourselves and our work unto the Lord. There is no insignificant work for our Lord.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tests are a good thing.

FYI: Churches in Virginia are required to have a Fire Prevention Code Permit to operate. In order to get one, a fee has to be paid, and an annual inspection by a county Fire Marshall has to be passed. Pastoring a congregation whose building dates back to 1946 brings fabulous opportunities at each of these ‘tests’. Exit lights know when the inspection is about to occur, and so, they blow out just before the Fire Marshall arrives. We just had our fire extinguishers tested, and the one in the most obvious location was missed. They have to have a current year inspection. The good news is that exit lights were quickly replaced, and decades of maintenance have made our building without any issues. We passed the test.

Without these tests, I am not sure if human nature would ensure our congregation worships in a safe building. With these tests, I don’t have to memorize the fire prevention code book, and if the building doesn’t pass the test, we are given time to fix the issues. Fire alarm system, fire extinguishers, fire proof doors, exit lights, kitchen stove hood operational, exit doors operational, etc, etc. etc. is all good. A big plus is I get to meet and fellowship with a Fire Marshall every year. I have made good friends, and today was another blessing of another friendship, and I got to meet a trainee, who was tagging along with an old timer in the system. (Who, by the way, is leaving for his 31st mission trip and has helped build over 150 congregational buildings to worship in.)(He is very strict on churches, because of his love for the Lord and the Lord’s people.)

Some aspects of government can be a bit much, and I have past issues with one pretty arrogant Fire Marshal (another story), but in general, it is a positive experience to be ‘tested’ every year. Last year was the worst, for its timing was in the midst of the worst moments of chemotherapy, but even then, the result of the test was good for the congregation.

James 1: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Health Care

After hearing my own diagnosis of an incurable cancer one of my first thoughts, was, “well, I guess it’s time for me to brush up on health and healing scriptures.” What we cannot lose in the debate on health care is that the scriptures contain a timeless hope filled message that any can have faith in.

Ps. 103: 3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

Neither the Govt., nor insurance companies are the enemy of health. Both are humanities attempt at addressing a most complex issue and are doing their best. It has been multiple years of ‘brushing up on health and healing scriptures’, and the more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn. Most of my grad school classes, I leave feeling pretty stupid when I realize how much more there is to know on any given subject. Every Sunday @Vienna Assembly of God, we pause the service to pray with anyone struggling with health issues. Very few are instantaneously healed and the vast majority is progressively becoming healthy by following a doctor’s advice in tandem with faith. All our life is filled with new discoveries about the wonder and grace of God, and though someone may think they know all there is to know, and are doing all they know to do, there will always remain more to know, and more to do in any area of life, especially on the topic of health.

The world is neither coming to an end, nor entering a new era by anything that is done in Washington D.C. That fate is determined at a much higher level of existence, and we have been welcomed into relationship with the One who holds the past, present and future.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Miracles.

Multidimensions of the miracles of Jesus in one family.

Martha’s selfless service.
Mary’s gracious gift.
Lazarus raised from the dead.

Inner miracles are just as miraculous as the physical, and maybe even more so.
The good news is that the miracles of Jesus are still being experienced no matter the dimension of the need. More @viennaag.com.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oh, no, I forgot to go by the CPA's office!

It was 5:00 p.m., and I was four miles away on a bike ride when I remembered. Not just any bike ride, but a test ride on the County Connector Trail, a trail paralleling Difficult Run. I stopped and called, and they were gone. Moments later they called back, and let me know they are working late. Thanks be to God she was a grandmother and understood when I said, I had been enjoying the afternoon with grandkids and totally forgot. I biked back to Vienna, and pedaled right up to their front door, and walked on in with bicycle attire including helmet (covered my hat head hair). The blessing of doing business with people you have known for years is that formalities are not necessary. She explained the very complicated process of computing a tax that our church has to pay that will be a relief to the congregation. (Yes, there are special cases when a church has to pay a tax.)(I am serious it is a tax that rhymes with two bit.) Anyway, these fine ladies who are CPA’s are working late on a very pleasant Saturday evening for our congregation and other of their clients.
Thanks be to God for skilled, friendly, late working God fearing CPA’s.

The big 'if'

Leviticus 26:3 “ ‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands,4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Free Samples

Following the Lord includes overcoming biblical illiteracy @VAOG, so we include in our services readings from four passages of scripture every Sunday from the Revised Common Lectionary. Here is just a sample from each passage for this Sunday.

Isaiah 43: 18 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!

Philippians 3: 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Psalms 126: 5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

John 12:1-8
1Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

2Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.

3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.


Reader: The Word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.

Sunday readings of scripture, plus daily reading of a prescribed reading plan of scripture, is one of the best things a person and congregation can do in response to one’s love of the Lord. This Sunday @ViennaAG.com, we continue the sermon series on the Miracles of Jesus by focusing in on the miracles of Jesus received by Martha, Mary and Lazarus.

Monday, March 15, 2010

R-CHOP Anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of beginning R-CHOP chemotherapy. Thanks be to God who caused me to triumph in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to my wife, children, family, congregation, doctors, nurses and community for being so supportive during this season of life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You can't get me!

It is the name of the game I liked to play with my kids, and now my grand kids. I came to realize not everyone loves playing this non-stop running game at my four year old grand daughter’s school today. Lydia and I were the only ones playing our little game, (at first). The teacher even came and encouraged me to “take it easy granddad”. She had this worried look on her face that I was over doing it. However, soon, three or four more four year olds came to join in and rowdy running around the playground ensued. One day, I hope to lead my grand kids on their first marathon or ultra marathon, but until then, playing our families version of tag will do just fine.

Pirate Pastor.

Today, I get to have breakfast and go to school with my middle granddaughter. The theme for the day is ‘Pirates’, but as of now not sure if I am up to pirate attire. Hmmm, maybe Pastor Pirate, or Pirate Pastor.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Test bike ride.

Very successful, now to see if there is any soreness in a day or so. Interesting sight. Deer running for the sheer pleasure of it. Round and round, like they were playing tag with each other. One can see more deer beside the W&O.D. than you can in the deep woods.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Illinois Dept. of Public Health reports:

“Women suffer from depression twice as often as men. One out of four women may have depression sometime during their lifetime. Many people suffer with depression but do not seek help.”

What causes depression?

There are serious answers, but in my informal poll the obvious answer to what causes women to suffer depression twice as often as men is:

Men!

Miracles of the mind.

A mental miracle is obtained after passing through a test of some kind that involves overcoming shame. To access a mental miracle, one has to press through this barrier. One must be willing to press through not being ashamed to call for help in a time of great need?

Isaiah 55:1-9
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters

Need/want a miracle of the mind?

Go outside and play in God’s creation of nature.

Come inside and worship in/with God’s community of His people.

Both are equally important for mental health.

Friday, March 5, 2010

You are crazy!

I get this a lot. This time it was from the mouth of one of my chemotherapy nurses. Thursday was the monthly ‘flushing’ of my port, and she escorted me back to one of her patients. On the way, she said, “he is reading your book, and wants to meet you”. She introduced me to a man who was being treated for Leukemia, and was also a long distance runner. Her final words as she left us alone, was, “you are crazy!” I took it as a compliment and turned to my new brother, and we shared together in ways that only chemotherapy patients can understand. It was my oncologist who shared my book with him. He was planning on running a marathon in January, but his diagnosis changed all his plans. It was privileged moment to minister hope to someone, who was in the middle of his treatments and re-planning his life.
If I was a perfectly healthy pastor, asking to minister to the patients undergoing chemotherapy, I doubt if they would allow it. However, because I am a “jar of clay”, and fellow sufferer, albeit ‘crazy’, the nurses are very comfortable escorting me around to patients in need of some ‘crazy’ hope. I have an open door of ministry to all the doctors, nursing staff and patients, and as I sat in my car about to leave, I wept in silent praise. This morning my scheduled reading was this:

2 Corinthians 4: 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.

God’s word is amazingly concise, complete, compassionate and provides clarity for life’s ‘craziness’.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do it!

Do what? Do everything in love (1 Cor. 16:14). Everything? Everything! Do it! Do it! Do it! And do it again! Do everything from a love based relationship with God, others and yourself.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What if scenario.

What if a person’s mind would believe that in a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, every longing of every soul, and every need of every type would be met?

1 Corinthians 15: 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cluster words in scripture are to be noted.

Psalm 27:14 is one verse with a cluster.

 14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

The cluster words "wait and wait "are revealing of God's plan for every human being.

Wait is a Hebrew Word.

qâvâh

A primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), that is, collect; (figuratively) to expect: - gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).


 

Possible uses are:

To wait is to bind yourself together with, on and for the Lord.

To wait is to collect yourself together with, on and for the Lord.

To wait is to gather yourself together with, on and for the Lord.

To wait is to look with, on and for the Lord.

To wait is to tarry with, on and for the Lord.

All these are possible meanings of the cluster words wait and wait in vs. 14.

To accomplish any level of mind renewal, that produces a transformational belief system at the very heart of every person, requires this waiting with, on and for the Lord.

It is the word picture of a faith based relationship with God, the highest and best of all relationships. This is God's plan for every human being, so wait with, on and for the Lord and transformation will occur.

What are you not very confident about?

What are you insecure about?

The edge of your own limitations is there, not because of God's will, but because each of us has set our limitations, based on our thoughts and beliefs. Our minds set our limits. Our abilities set our limits. Our experiences set our limits, yet in a relationship with God, God wants to renew our minds, so we can be transformed, and the very thing we are insecure about, the very act that we are not so good at, will become a strength in our life. And, that because of God's grace, it is not about you, or me, but God's grace at work in you. God's grace is undeserved, unmerited, and un-worked for, so it is less about us, and more about faith in God.

Faith!

Every one of us needs others to show us, what is possible.

None of us needs any help in showing us what is impossible.

Be fearless!

Everyone is fearless about a few things. Very few are fearless about everything and everyone.

March Emphasis: Miracles of Jesus!

Mental miracles of Jesus are as great as or even greater than the physical ones. Jesus, miraculously transformed minds, not just bodies. Jesus is the same, today, yesterday and forever, and even now, can perform a miracle in one's mind. Just one mental miracle is the transformative power of no longer be thinking of one's hurt, or ones victimization, or ones negative experience, through forgiveness and forgiving. Imagine, a life that doesn't think of revenge, or bitterness, or jealousy, or rage, or depressing thoughts, but rather thinks of hope, faith, love forgiveness and forgiving. It can be yours, through a relationship with Jesus.

It's going to be good every Sunday in March at Vienna Assembly of God. It's going to be good because the Miracles of Jesus are ongoing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Abram believed the Lord, whereas I would have freaked.

Seriously, how many of us would have freaked out to hear this. Genesis 15: 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

I had faith for three, but Abram had faith to believe for an innumerable number of offspring. My mind counted the cost of food, living, cars, college, weddings, etc., but Abram's just believed the Lord. Period. He didn't waver, but I sure would. I wavered big time at the news of my first one. After the initial excitement wore off, and I was all alone, all kinds of thoughts hammered me, from "am I able to parent?", "am I ready for this?", " what if this, and what if that?". Yet, the father of faith, did not waver, and believed the Lord.

Lord, thanks for taking me back to schoolin' and reminding me that just when I thought I had some faith, how little, I really have. Lord, you promised I and others could have this faith, so, … I think I will, thank you.