Sunday, September 11, 2011
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
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
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.