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Archive for May, 2007

2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2

Do you ever look around as you come into church?  What do you see?  Do you see a building or do you see people?  Is the building done?  Are the people finished?  Do you see progress and changes being made or do you see only the things that need to be done?

When we look at the building, we need to be aware that this building is not going to heaven.  There will never come a day when we will gather before God’s great throne and see this building occupying a place of glory and prominence in God’s kingdom.  God’s plan for this world is not to save concrete, wood and tile and turn them into church buildings so they can go to heaven.

His plan for this world, brothers and sisters, is to redeem for Himself a people, some of whom have lived all their lives in rum shops, while others lived in churches. His plan is to call them His own people, holy and beloved by God.  The purposes of God never involve things, except to use those things in the lives of His people to make them more like Him.

God is most concerned that we reflect who He is to this world.  He has told us to be holy as He is holy.  We are to be like Him in His perfection all of His perfection.  We cannot concentrate only on one area or another that we will work on in our lives.

God demands that we be totally set apart for Him.  There can be nothing else in front of Him or held in higher honor by us as if He is served by our doing that thing.  It does not matter whether that is a building, a program or a Bible Study method.

Holiness is not an option for us if we desire to go to heaven.  The Bible is quite clear that without holiness we do not enter heaven because God will not allow imperfections into His presence.  This building is not going to heaven, because it cannot be holy in the same way that God is holy.  But if we are holy people we will certainly arrive in God’s great eternal kingdom.

Most of us however I think struggle a great deal with this concept.  We probably do not wake up and say to ourselves in the mirror in our best Robin, the Boy Wonder voice saying, “Holy of Holies, Batman, I wish I could be set apart, sanctified and pure just like Peter, James, John and Paul in my Bible!” (more…)

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In 20+ years of ministry, I cannot remember a stretch of time that has been as busy as the past 10 weeks has been.  What makes it more complicated is that with only a few exceptions, I cannot see what fruit all this busy-ness is producing.  I feel as if I am running from one programming event to the next and not stopping to notice the people involved.

My daughter took note of my schedule the other night and said this ministry thing is for birds that are crazy.  She might be right.

Now with a major funeral in our church (and island community), the event programming mentality is feeling overwhelming to this pastor’s brain.  I can remember when I would get lots of time to spend with the family as they begin to cope with their grief.  That has disappeared like snow in the Caribbean.

Everything that is in me is rebelling against this, but while I’m stuck in the programming vortex, I can’t find the exit to get out of the storm.  I’m praying that lives are being touched and the gospel is being preached to people who need to know God’s grace through all of these events, but I’m not seeing it.

This afternoon walking out of the bank I ran into one of the fringe participants in our congregation.  He was on the street corner in the village drinking out of a plastic cup and was covered in new scars.  He had been jumped by someone looking to kill his brother.  He needed some cash for food (at least that’s what he said).  I gave him a few coins and invited him back to church.  He said he would be there.  We’ll see.

I wanted to talk some more, but kids needed to get home from school, and then I had an afternoon and evening of meetings about the aforementioned funeral and other upcoming events in our church and on the island.  I had to let him go on his way so I could go on my way.  What a bummer.

Can I say this about that?  This is SO not what I signed up for in ministry.  Programming events, meetings, planning sessions, etc. have their place.  But when people get run over on the way to the next meeting, something is wrong with ministry.  I just can’t see the value in letting this guy go on his way so I could have the honor of sitting through a hour-long meeting about parking and crowd management for the biggest funeral in the village so far this year.

If you can’t tell yet, I am seriously disgusted with the way things are going right now.  Hopefully it will begin to even out again in the near future.  Maybe I’ll even find the time to post some stuff in this open space.  But after the funeral.

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ALMIGHTY God, who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit; grant that by the same Spirit we may judge everything rightly and always rejoice in His holy strengthening and protection; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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1 Peter 1:13-16 

Peter begins this passage in his letter by saying that we are to prepare ourselves for action.

We don’t have the privilege of sitting around and waiting for things to happen to us.  We need to be active and take action in light of what God wants us to be.

We must learn to be like runners who when they line up for a race drop everything that could hold them back.  We don’t see runners set up to the start line carrying luggage.  They aren’t wolfing down big Macs and a supersized box of fries.  They aren’t dressed up for a night on the town or for their own wedding.

There’s only one mission on their minds.  Get to the finish line.  It’s such a solitary goal that those who race at the highest levels spend years perfecting their starting stance.  They have discovered the best pace at which they run the fastest times.  They have found which shoes help or hinder them on what kind of track surface and in what kind of weather.  Even their clothes are designed for freedom of movement and for extra light weight.

They have put hours and even years in to the preparation for a race that may last for less than seconds or as long as two hours or more.  When they step up to the line they are prepared for one thing and one thing only—to run.  No matter how long or short the race is, the only purpose they have is to run.

That’s the call that Peter is laying on us this evening in this passage.  We need to be ready for action, ready to do what God has called us to do, ready to be the people God has called us to be. (more…)

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Sunday Prayer

Almighty Father, the King of glory, who exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven; we pray you not to leave us desolate, but to send your Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place to which our Savior has already gone; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.  Amen.

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I would guess that everyone of us has stood at the airport waving good by to someone we love as they flew off to wherever they were going in this big world.  We could have waved to our parents, to our children, to other family members or even to friends

I would also guess that standing there waving good by wasn’t always the most pleasant of feelings.  We may have been smiling, but I’m guessing we may have also been crying a little inside.  Saying goodbye can be filled with sadness even when good things are happening.  Saying goodbye to a child heading off to school overseas is both exciting as we anticipate what will happen in their lives and sad as they no longer come home to tell us about their day every day.

Sometimes the sadness comes because we cannot anticipate the future.  We ask ourselves if we will ever see that person again in this life.  This question hits us harder as we grow older and our parents grow older.  We fly off wondering if we will see them again or we watch them fly off and wonder if they will ever come back.  If our parents are gone, often the question becomes about us.  Will we be around when our kids come back from school?

It’s a hard question to face wondering if this is going to be the last time we see someone we love.  It makes the trip to the airport hard because we know what’s coming.  The laughter and excitement that is touched with a bit of sadness makes us uneasy.  We can tell ourselves that God is in control, but that doesn’t always ease the pain of saying goodbye to someone we love.  We get attached to the people who are closest to us.

When those with whom we are closest leave, our hearts grow heavy even in good circumstances like when a child leaves for school or goes away to work in a different part of the world.  We know this from our own experiences, but imagine the rollercoaster of emotions in the hearts and minds of Jesus’ disciples on the day when Jesus ascended to heaven. (more…)

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ALMIGHTY Father and ever-living God, we truly believe that your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven; grant, we pray, that we may also in heart and mind ascend there, and continually dwell with him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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