Search This Blog

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holy Communion - Remembering Christ’s Death

     For many years I have tried to grasp the magnificence of such a gift God has given to mankind by presenting His son to the world, who dwelt on this planet in skin like us that was ripped apart - sinew, bone and ligament;  severed from His father, racked in the severest of pain, to die broken in body and maybe even in  His spirit. He was fatally pierced for something He never did.  For many years I have pondered, thought about, and even at times anguished over my inability to grasp the very essence of this cruelty that changed the very course of humanity from damned death to life. I’ve had such remorse at times to know that I lack the intimacy needed to feel and be moved at depths worthy of this magnanimous action of will on the cross. Will I ever be provoked by such a willingness to choose what seemed, can I say it – ridiculous, audacious?!

     I have yet to fulfill what I am called into, but I drink deeply in anticipation, racing to the call. I was asked to serve communion, but I’m just beginning the licensing process, with several months of preparation and lack credential.  I’ve put myself under the authority of this process outlined in the church discipline, submitting myself to the process. And then I saw something. When Christ said He only did what the Master told Him to do, that’s what He did. He wasn’t moved by someone’s whim or wants, and yet, because He was God, we see in the scripture that when He was moved with compassion, He acted.  Now this is quite a mystery for me. It’s enough to chew on for a lifetime, maybe forever!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Post 9/11


 Yesterday, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, our morning routine was shattered by a loud bang. Our hearts broke when we saw and heard the ambulance taking the victim of a gun shot wound to the hospital. It was a reminder that we live in a world, hostile to grace, filled with war and divisions. I don’t know what caused an individual to pull the trigger and shoot someone a block away from me, and neither do I understand the complexities and the tyranny of judgment someone has against another because they have different lifestyles, beliefs and cultural norms. It’s the breeding ground for hatred and animosity. God really doesn’t need our help in judgment. If anyone had the right to retaliate and take matters into His own hands against the humanity that bludgeoned Him and hung Him on a cross to die, it was the Christ - there was no sin in Him. He was perfect, and yet His life was offensive to those who didn’t believe. It’s hard to keep weapons of anger, hate and suspicion in the face of love. In this post 9/11 world, we can be the first to offer peace.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Can I Fulfill?

     Fulfill is to bring to realization, or satisfy requirements or obligations, to bring to completion, or develop the full potential. The King James version says in Matthew 5:17 that Christ came to fulfill the law. I never questioned the completion of His suffering on the cross. What He did was complete. So complete that I couldn’t add to it or diminish it by what I do or don’t do. But then I heard another scripture Sunday morning from Romans 13:8b, in that same translation that says, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. I had to think about that. The Message translation says we have a huge debt of love we owe each other, and when we love others, we complete what the law has been after all along. This has really challenged my way of thinking! It seems clear to me that Christ hanging on the cross and spilling His blood and life over and over again for my tendency to sin was not the only act that fulfilled the law. I do have a clean slate and don’t have to carry around my sins, but I do have a debt. I thought all was forgiven? Yes I believe that is correct, but as I enter into that forgiveness, I also have a debt. What comes to my mind is the National debt, which is a few trillion dollars and increasing by the minute. If we divide that debt among all of us, financial experts say, that would be $23,000.00 per person.

     It’s not that kind of debt. This debt of love is not something I take out of the bank or store in a vault. Because I have been forgiven much and I’m forgiven again and again, over and over, I owe a debt. A debt to love in a way that I have been loved when I have been forgiven. It really is exciting to know that I do walk with a clean slate and have been forgiven for my continual weakness’, but it’s still a pretty big mystery to me – and I suppose you may have to ask yourself, what does that debt of love mean to me?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

“Love From a Full Tank”

Romans 12: 9-21
You just had to be there to get the full effect and to feel the energy and sweetness that was among us.  That’s how it was on Sunday. It all began when we pulled into Starbucks for our ‘caffeine charge’- bold African that morning, but when we were ready to head out to our first ‘gig’ (Harley preaches at 2 locations every Sunday) we couldn’t start the car.  We had a full tank of gas but it wouldn’t even turn over. We opened the hood to stare at the big dark masses, like we know anything about them?! We immediately start calling for a ride, trying not to fret about the car stalling (after we plunked down $5000 for a rebuilt engine 3 months ago.)

Pretty much, nothing happens without the Pastor, so Harley was getting kind of anxious and nervous about being late, or missing the first service entirely. But he heard this small voice inside say, “Are you going to trust me?”

 It was an unforeseen predicament – he didn’t plan this untimely breakdown, nonetheless Harley started to get anxious trying to figure his way out of our predicament.  He called Bob from church who came right away to our aid after he called John (church soundman) to let him know what was going on. Now John was still at home because he woke up late and just told his wife that he was probably going to stay at home because it would be too late by the time he got ready.  When he heard the pastor was running late, he revved up his engine and headed to church. The jumper cables worked like a charm on our car, and we headed down the road to church.

So Dan happens to be the illustration for his sermon. He really doesn’t like to be the living sacrifice, but it was a good example! But I have to back up, because it wasn’t the first time he heard that question this past week-end.  Dan worked a shift at the motor GP in Indianapolis, and Friday morning he miscalculated his time and set his alarm for the time he should leave, arriving 45 minutes late with high octane anxiety running through his nervous system. But it just so happened he walked in right behind the other worker in his booth! Everyone was running late.

You can trust me! That’s what the small voice said to him over the week-end! He even got a free ticket for his wife (that would be me) to attend Motor GP Sunday afternoon. Everyone at church was chatting about the sufficiency of God during the preliminary activities before the sermon, which almost turned into the sermon due to the time factor; but the conversations were pertinent, illustrating and reminding us of God’s sufficiency.

I am still amazed at how much God cares for us, even down to the smallest of details. How much turmoil is in the world? Who’s going without food today? How many are fighting and what are they fighting about? God knows and cares - down to the smallest detail. Nothing escapes His attention.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Parade People -Matthew 21:1-11

Why was it such a surprise for some? Parades usually aren't a surprise, and not everyone was happy about the whole outdoor procession.  Others were asking, "What's He doing?" Jerusalem should have known the Messiah was coming - but they didn't like the 'interruption'. They were irritated. This King interrupted their plans. But often we plan poorly. It's heart-breaking that what could have been a lavish, victorious celebration, became an upheaval. It was a divided experience.

What do we have to do to celebrate God's way? Expect God to interrupt our plans regularly. Let God give us His ideas. Crucifixion looked like a bad choice! The worst choices we humans can make will not mess up God's intentions or the Son of God being King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Welcome interruption as God's hand - believe that God has the upper hand. Follow Him in joy and get in the front of the parade! The Kingdom of God is 'already upon us' so let's prepare for the parade because we're parade people!

Excerpts from Harley's sermon April 17, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011


Ezekiel describes his vision in chapter 37, of a valley of dry bones that were not buried, but scattered, picked clean and destroyed. They were dismembered bone chips. There was no skin on those bones for protection. We can't live without skin, it keeps boundaries. It's also a barrier that allows for absorption. Neither was there a spine or backbone. They weren't standing for anything in that dry desert. Muscle was long gone from those bones indicating perhaps, a lack of spiritual strength. And most importantly, there was no breath, or spirit, God's Spirit.

How did this happen? Long before Ezekiel had this vision, God told him to eat 'this book', eat the Word of God. We are consuming all the time - feeding on something. When we feed on God's Word - feast on it, we are nourished. This dead jumble of bones, or army as some commentators call them, had starved themselves to death.

Instead of digesting God's Word, there is the temptation to eat 'bad food' or just fill up on junk food. We have access to plenty of stories, teachings and prophesies in the bible that are true and pertinent to the world we live in today. We live in a devastated world. Where are God's people in these times? We don't ignore the chaos, but believe in resurrection for Egypt, Syria, Japan, Libya, Afganistan, Ivory Coast and the list goes on and on. Ezekiel saw a picture of resurrection power. And this is the kind of power we need today.

Excerpts from Harley's sermon 4.10.11 Ezekiel 37:1-14

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Life Begins at 70 For Abraham!

"Life began for Abraham at age 70", writes Eugene Pederson in The Way of Jesus. I know I don't want to wait until I'm in my 70's to do something significant with my life or to have some kind of impact in the Kingdom of God, but Pastor Harley says we have to ask the right question. It's not what can I do for God, but what is God doing and what's my part? You might say, God is a 'live-stream' and we jump into it and get involved with what God is accomplishing. And it's more than positive-thinking says Pastor Harley, it's thinking Godly.

Paul is reviewing the life of Abraham, on his journey into faith, who was not alone in his quest for faith. One time God intervened, and alerted an agnostic king who was about to sleep with Abraham's wife. Abraham lied, and told the king, Abimelech, that Sarah was his sister. In spite of his doubts, God used Abraham mightily - he was a father of many nations. What is remarkable about this is that Sarah was childless until she was very old, past her child-bearing years. Actually she was at least 90 years old when she bore her first son, Isaac. For Abraham, having his own family looked impossible, it was impossible. But God promised the impossible and made good on it.

"Plug into the success of all eternity."             
Excerpts from Pastor Harley's sermon 3.18.11  Romans 4:1-5; 13-17

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ways and Means

You might say the Ways and Means Committee gives us a charge in Matthew 28:
          “Go out and train everyone you meet far and near in this way of life.”

When you read an instruction manual, sometimes you might have trouble understanding the next step - it just doesn't make sense, and you wonder, "Did I miss a step?" Or you may have trouble hearing the person giving you instructions over the phone. But it’s very different when you have a person right next to you, in the flesh, going through each step. Here is Jesus who shows us the way, who is The Way.  He is the center.

We are all very different and unique – extremely unique, and God speaks to every one of us, in every different culture. He has a way for us. There are so many possibilities and ideas within cultures throughout the world, but we can watch Jesus because He has A Way. He uses concepts everyone can deal with and understand. For example, He tells stories using water, a rock, a fish, and grain.

Now Jesus says to think of Him as the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7). And He also tells us how to treat the world – there’s hunger, so take what you have and feed them (Mark 8:5). When people came to try and trap Him and get him into trouble with the law, Jesus said, “Give me a coin.” And there was Caesar, so Jesus said to give Caesar what’s his and to God, what is His (Luke 20:25).

Jesus also said not to get caught up in critiquing the different ways of expression, when He said, “If they’re not against us, they’re for us!” (Mark 9:40)

Beginning this past Wednesday, for 40 days, Christianity denies themselves to try and remember what God did for them. It is the way of love.

This is an excerpt from a sermon dated 3/06/11

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Quest For Freedom

Egypt isn't the only place struggling under the chaos of oppression and the inspiration found in the pursuit of freedom. I watched an extraordinary production of Les Miserables this week-end and was stirred to think similar events of revolutionary proportions are occurring around the globe.

Peterson describes revolution as "holy" - to sum it up: something spiritually blazing and extravagant and glorious. He was talking specifically about the French Revolution, even though he had little idea of what was involved in an actual revolution. After he had been pastor for a few years, it came to him after observing people in his congregations that holy was to Christian what revolution was to the French in the 18th century, the energy that created a community of free men and women plunged into a new life.

Apart from the death and all the suffering, revolution looks inviting especially if it creates a new community. But it's not without cost.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Corinthian Lifestyle

     Paul has written a letter in 1 Corinthians, chapter one, to a church he began on a small, 4 mile isthmus, connecting the north and south parts of Greece together. It was small in size, but Corinth had a big reputation for serving up a good time to rich merchants and sailors. Every nation in the civilized world, Arabia, Phoenicia, Libya, Babylonia, Cilicia, Lycao and Phrygia all had reason to visit this small, but very important piece of property, because it linked them to Rome. Instead of sailing around Italy, sailors saved 202 miles by hauling boats and their goods across Corinth, and launching them on the other side of the island. Corinth had much to offer a tired, hungry and lonely sailor. There was the temple of Aphrodite that loomed above Corinth, on the hill of the Acropolis, home to the goddess of love and her 1000 sacred prostitutes. But there was nothing sacred about their evening journey to work their sex trade on the streets of Corinth.

     Paul is addressing certain actions that are everywhere evident in our culture today. I don’t know about your town, but we have more bars than grocery stores, only 50% of our teens graduate from high school (CASA 2010), and there are a host of habits and addictions keeping us from holy. I like the way Eugene Peterson decribes holy in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, as something blazing - a community bonfire. But is there a desire to be holy in our culture today? We want heroes and idols, but do we want holy?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

History Repeats Itself Again

     It’s not the first time Egyptians have been oppressed. Possibly, sometime between 1300-1200 BC Moses was given charge over approximately 1.5 million complaining people. They were oppressed by Egyptian leadership. The book of Exodus describes a God who saw this evil oppression and was intensely personal in His response.  He hears their cry in the midst of their oppression and comes down to rescue and deliver them from the power of the corrupt Egyptian leadership. God also gave them a picture of where they were going – into a land that was already occupied. They will have to fight to get it back. It could be described as a '12-step' plan. This didn't happen overnight. Like an alcoholic who has given over the land of his mind, body and soul to consumption, he must fight and battle his way back to possess the territory of his heart. Once again, Egyptians are fighting oppression and I hope and pray they receive their land. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Write With Precision and Restraint"

This week on PBS Newshour, Art Beat, Journalist and Author, Roger Rosenblatt talked about his new book, Unless it Moves The Heart, The Craft and Art of Writing. He believes that what we write must be useful to the world, and it’s important, because what we write can make suffering endurable, evil intelligible, justice desirable and love possible. He is teaching the craft of writing because he wants to give himself to others for an hour or two each week, and encourages others to do the same – give to others.

The noun he says is important. Emerson said the noun carries its own power, and Twain said a writer must find the right word, because it’s the difference between the lightening bug and the lightening. And so Rosenblatt tells his students that they are in the lightening business, and so, strive for anticipation rather than surprise, imagination rather than invention and make the world better. He calls this the ultimate definition of useful.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

God At Work

     It was a small, intimate gathering of fellow bloggers. We meet monthly to be encouraged and enriched in our blogging endeavors. We learn about various tools our instructor explains and sometimes demonstrates for us, giving us examples about writing inside our blogs. And we are introduced to ideas, lots of ideas about why we blog, the importance of sharing our passions, and even serving the community with the writing in our blogs.

     But tonight was special. We were wrapping it up, going past our 2 hours which is easy to do, even with busy schedules and other priorities screaming for our attention. And then it happened. Our attention was brought to something higher than ourselves, way beyond this drive to write out the surf on our creative edge. It began when our instructor just wanted to be thankful. She reviewed how God spared her daughter from harm after she had been mugged recently. She was not injured, and after finding some of the cards in her purse that were thrown on the ground, accounts were closed and nothing was lost. Even though she was quite shaken, there was someone at work on her behalf that night that brought hope to a rejoicing mother. When her daughter ran back to the restaurant for help, one of her customers had given her daughter a hand-written note containing $50, announcing that it was the help of God that brought her back safe and unharmed. We were all recognizing God at work in different ways in our lives, and then our attention was turned to confessions of our fellow bloggers’ practice of praying. She talked of her preoccupation of communing with God in the mornings. Often after her morning prayers, she would hover in the silence during the next moments, waiting and listening for a response spoken in a language only her heart could understand, telling her that God did indeed hear her prayers. When she mentioned a list of names she had a habit of praying for everyday, our instructor asked if her name was on that list. Oh who wouldn’t want to be on her prayer-list! It was like listening to Mother Teresa revealing secrets to partaking in the divine! And then as some of us were heading for home, I was struck by this rare phenomenon. I wish it wasn’t so uncommon, but how often do we hear people rejoicing over the things that God is doing? It was sweet and holy and very special.