Wednesday
May072014

Tossed not Lost

It's been a l-o-n-g week.

Short nights. Lots of work. Little sleep. Family in from out of town. Things to be cleaned up, wiped down, put away.

But life doesn't stop. So the very next day, before all of the tasks were done, Tammi and I got up and went to Flint. We were to gather for two days with other Nazarenes.

(I have to tell you I was a little less than ready to do this. My tank was on "E." I was running on reserve power. But we went.)

And God came.

We heard amazing stories about how God has been at work in neighborhoods in Ann Arbor and Flint that seemed to be forgotten.

We heard about a young girl who was baptized and so excited about giving her life to Jesus that she couldn't stop telling people at McDonald's, basketball practice, and anywhere else she went.

My pastor, District Superintendent Glen Gardner, challenged us with a vision God has laid on his heart and mind. The person to whom he answers, Dr. Jerry Porter, challenged us by knocking down excuses that we would find in the midst of the possibilities and God's great call.

I came home, still tired, but seeing new doors, imagining God's new creation, and more determined than ever to be a part of it. I really want YOU to get in on it too.

This morning as I spent a few minutes alone with God through the Bible, I came across this verse. Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes 11:1 NASB)

I gave away time and energy I didn't think I could afford. I got it back and THEN some. I found the thing I LEAST wanted to do was where I would receive what I needed MOST. Maybe immediately. Maybe not so soon.

What about you? Tonight we have an opportunity to share with two people who have given 30+ years of their lives to living out the Gospel in a difficult place. I have a feeling some of you are tired, don't have time or energy to come this evening. But that may be EXACTLY the time to come and have your batteries re-charged and your mind renewed.

Join us at 6:15 P.M. for Dinner. 6:45 for Worship. Our guests will share at around 7.

Grace & Peace

Monday
Apr282014

Monday Morning Breath

I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after the wind and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:11 NASB)

Here we go again. Monday morning. Same ol', same ol’.

Another week of getting up and doing your work. And what will it get you?

As the old song goes, "Another day older and deeper in debt.”

The writer/philosopher/poet of Ecclesiastes was asking himself the same question. He decided life was "hebel" which was Hebrew for "breath or vapor" in a literal sense; "vanity" in a figurative sense - something which is important in the moment but then passes away.

Maybe this morning you suffer from "Monday morning breath"; the reminder of the reality that no matter what we do, it doesn't last. That everything is routine and ultimately "what has already been done." (Ecc. 2:12 NASB)

The good news is God knows this and has actually built grace into the routine. God plans to meet us in the ordinary and repetitive. Consider:

- God has ordained Sabbath, one day off out of every seven, every WEEK. A chance to start each new week with God given passion, energy, focus, and purpose.

- Jesus has taught us to ask for DAILY bread; a constant reminder of God's provision. - God has given gifts like Scripture ("Your Word I have hid in my heart . . . ") and the Church ("You are the Body of Christ") with which we are called to engage and connect on a regular basis to sustain, resuscitate, and recreate us.

Yes, life is fleeting. Yes, life has routine.

But in those routine, fleeting moments, God is ready for an encounter. Even in our "Monday morning breath."

Thursday
Apr242014

Prayer When You Are Drowning

Ever have it up to here with life?

Ever put into a situation you can't cope with?

Maybe you had a hand in where you ended up. Maybe you didn’t.

Either way you need a lifeline, a rescue. Here is a prayer that is offered to you.

I called out of my distress to the LORD, You had cast me into the deep. Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head. While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, And my prayer came to You. those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness. But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol. You heard my voice. (Jonah 2:2,5,7,8,9,2 NASB)

Maybe you have received news that is more devastating than you could have ever imagined.

Maybe you are in a situation you see NO way out of.

This is my prayer today. I am praying it for you.

Grace & peace

Thursday
Apr172014

What's At Stake? Everything

"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands . . . " (John 13:3 NASB)

"It is Thursday, the night before Jesus' crucifixion. This evening has been laden with teaching (John 13-17), shocking with foot-washing by the greatest for the least (John 13:3-20), epoch-making with the institution of the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-20), and pivotal with the departure of Judas (John 13:30)." (John Piper)

What hangs in the balance this night? Everything. The saving of the world and all that is in it.

But the world isn't saved as a super hero flies out of the sky.

The world isn't saved as a super spy fights in hand to hand combat.

The world isn't saved by a gun or a thunderous hammer.

The world is saved as a powerful yet humble man washes feet, offers a meal, is betrayed by a friend, struggles with the will of God in prayer, and quietly gives his life away.

Today, approximately 2,000 years later, people around the world celebrate these events.

Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Holy Saturday.

What is at stake? Everything.

What will you do to remember and to follow?

Grace & peace

Wednesday
Apr162014

Will YOU Take This Challenge?

Are YOU Willing to Take the Challenge?

My friend Rob Prince posted this question on his Facebook page yesterday, "Who have you invited to Easter Sunday services?”

He told a story of someone in his life whom he invited. Got me thinking, "Who have I invited?" I have a friend of mine who is a landscaper. I invited him and his wife to Easter Sunday. Tammi has a family she works with. We invited them to the Easter Egg Hunt.

But I felt I should do more. So based upon Rob's question I prayed for the opportunity to invite ONE PERSON EACH DAY this week to our weekend events.

Yesterday, just a few minutes after praying that prayer, a friend of mine in a community group to which I belong, was mentioning she is a "relapsed Presbyterian." I listened to her story and then took a moment to invite her.

Are YOU willing to take that challenge (or a modified version of it that fits YOUR life?)

"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14)

WE have the chance to be one, tiny PART of this great telling & showing.

Will YOU take the challenge?

Grace & peace