Saturday, December 5, 2009

Personal Reflection: My Will vs. God's Will

In scripture, Jesus teaches such interesting upside-down lessons to his disciples and those listening to him...

“...the last will be first and the the first will be last” [Matt 20:16]...

“...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” [Mark 10:43-44]...

Maybe one day my life will mirror such upside-down thinking and I will be able to say with a joyful heart that I was a failure in what I wanted to do for God, but a success in what God wanted me to do for the Kingdom...

Not my will, Lord, but Yours ... bring Your will to pass in my life!! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Faith Reflections: The Road to Emmaus

Read Luke 24:13-35

In this passage, two disciples of Jesus are walking from Jerusalem to a small village named Emmaus. It has just been a couple of days since Jesus has been crucified. They are troubled and dejected as they discuss the recent events while they walk, perhaps wondering what they would do now that their teacher and master and Lord had been crucified. Possibly, they are thinking that it wasn't supposed to have happened that way... then a third traveller joins them and asks what they are talking about.

The scriptures tell us that although the disciples could see and hear this third traveller, they did not really know who he was... they could not really "see" or "know" him for who he was until he "opened" their eyes and revealed himself to them as their Lord and master, the one who had so recently been crucified. And then, after their encounter with Jesus is over, they realize that somehow, they must have known all along who he was, because their hearts had "burned within them" as he had spoken with them.

As we walk life's road, while we cannot see the One who walks with us, yet we still can know who He is... with our eyes "opened" by His love and faithfulness, we can "see" Him who is now invisible to us... and through prayer and reading the scriptures, we can talk with and hear from the One who travels life's road with us. As the hearts of the early disciples "burned within them", even when they did not yet know who was traveling with them, so our hearts will also "burn within us" as our unseen Lord and Savior journeys with us along the roads we travel in life.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Great Commission...

We Christians call it The Great Commission... "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." [Matthew 28:19 NRSV].

I just wonder what that "looks like" in real life for those who consider themselves to be Christians... how do you "go... and make disciples [of Jesus, the Christ]"?

I would like to know how those of you who read this post, and consider yourself to be a Christian, "go... and make disciples". How do you answer the call of the Great Commission?

And if you are not Christian, then I would like to know how you think that one who says they are a Christian should "go... and make disciples".

I invite your comments...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Prayer of the Day...

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:

"'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. '"

Luke 11:1-4 [Bible - New International Version]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Time is It Really?

Not too long ago, I was talking with an individual who was getting ready to graduate from high school and I asked what she was thinking of doing after graduation. When she answered that she knew she wanted to go to college, but wasn't sure what she was going to study or do for the rest of her life, I found myself thinking that she still had plenty of time to decide those things. The idea of her having "plenty of time" came to mind because she was "young" ... and most people think a young person has "plenty of time" as opposed to someone older who might not think they have a lot of time left in life...

But then I realized that this comparison that we make between young and old regarding the time we have in life on this earth was not true!! We all have the same amount of time no matter how old we are... because no one is guaranteed any more time here on earth than "right now"!! We all hope and plan for the future, but that future is not guaranteed... each moment past "now" that we live is a gift from God!!

So hope and dream and plan for the future... whether you think your future on this earth is going to be for 60 or 70 more years, or whether you think it might only be another hour or day or year... and no matter how long you have, use it all for God's glory... after all, the time you have is God's gift to you, so you might thank God by living for Him!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Memorial Day Tribute

Let us not forget to pray for all who serve in harm's way... or the families who wait for them... and may we never forget that there are those who have given their all. May God give them peace and comfort.



Video Link

Monday, May 11, 2009

mothers remembered...

I came across this YouTube today... and as yesterday was Mother's Day, I thought a bit of humor in honor of Mother's Day might bring a smile!!



Video Link

Saturday, April 18, 2009

new beginnings...

Easter has come and gone... and I have once again been reminded of God's awesome love for me... that He should die for my sins and then rise again, bringing me new life... and new beginnings!! May God's blessings be on each of you, as every day we rise with the knowledge that we are an Easter People, and that we have an awesome God who is ever faithful in His love towards us!!

Praise God!! Christ has risen indeed!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

God's Love and Mercy is So Great...

To get to Easter, you have to go through Good Friday... which wasn't so "good" when it happened... Jesus' blood, Jesus' life for our sins... the price for our salvation... the price for our reconciliation with God... a brutal and savage act done to one who was innocent of any sin... for my sins and your sins... because God loves us so much...

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Faith Reflections: Knowing the Cost...

Too often, we think of doing something for someone else, but then when we realize what it will cost us, many times we decide not to do it, because the cost will be too high... either it will take too much money or too much time or will take away from our popularity with others or... well, you get the picture.

But not Jesus... he knew the cost... Jesus knew his journey to Jerusalem would cost him everything he could give... he knew he would be welcomed into the city as a conquering hero... but then that he would be betrayed and deserted by his friends... that he would be arrested and beaten and humiliated... and that he would die... Jesus knew the cost, and went anyway...

Thank God, Jesus decided that we were worth the cost!!



Video Link

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Question of the Day...

Spring has sprung... and "March Madness" has begun!!  Who are your favorites and who do you think will win this year?  [Unfortunately, my favorite - Florida - didn't even get into the tourney....   but, there is always next year...  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page for game times, etc]...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Since today is St. Patrick's Day, I thought this might be appropriate!!  Enjoy!!



Video Link

Monday, March 9, 2009

Living a Prophetic Life

Have you ever had anyone challenge your thinking about the way you live out your faith? 

Recently, I heard a speaker who did just that...  and his challenge to each of us was that we might live and preach in such a way, that people would know that our God was real...  That our words and our actions would cause them to be shaken to the very foundations of their lives with God's "fire", so that they would "fall on their faces" and worship God...  not just think that we were wonderful Christ-followers... or great preachers... or great Sunday school teachers or youth workers...

As I have been thinking about this challenge, it came to me that in order to answer this challenge, one had to live a "prophetic life".  Don't misunderstand - I am not saying that one has to become a prophet...  becoming a prophet is not a "career choice" that one can study for, and then go seek a job.  In studying Old Testament prophets, it is clear that they became prophets at God's choosing.  They weren't looking to be prophets or proclaiming themselves as prophets...  God chose them... God called them... God made them prophets...  and they served at God's will, prophesying only when given a specific message from God.

But yet, thinking of this challenge brought the conclusion that Christ-followers needed to live "prophetic lives"...   So what does that mean?  Although I think I may live the rest of my life figuring that out, here is what I think now:

A prophetic life is a "called" life...
A prophetic life is a life that has "a knowledge of God"...
A prophetic life is one that is in communion with God...
A prophetic life is a surrendered life...
A prophetic life is one that brings God's message of hope and love to the world...
A prophetic life is one lived as a part of the community of believers...

If you have answered Jesus' call to follow him, and have surrendered your life to follow God's will... if you are continuing to learn about God as you live in communion with Him and in community with fellow believers... and if you are willing to share the message of hope and love that comes from God with a world that is desperate and hurting...  then you might be on the journey to live a prophetic life.

Jesus told his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."  [Matthew 9:37-38  New International Version of the Bible]  

Pray that more will answer God's call to live prophetic lives!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I gave up chocolate for Lent...

This morning in Sunday school, as we began to talk about Lent, one of the youth said, "I gave up chocolate for Lent!" My reply was a question. "Why? Why did you give up something for Lent?" I wanted to know if she or anyone else in the class knew why people "gave things up" for Lent. Many times, during this Lenten season of the Christian year, people "give something up"... but if there is no understanding of the reason why this is done at this time of the year, then this becomes a meaningless ritual.

Lent is the 40 day time of the year [not counting Sundays] before Easter during which Christians take time for introspection, for soul searching, reflection and repentance... it is a time of growing in one's faith in preparation for the coming of the death and resurrection of Christ. In the earliest days of the church, Christ-followers re-dedicated themselves to the faith, and new converts learned about the Christian faith as they prepared for baptism. "Giving something up" was done to help a person focus on the ideas of reflection, repentance, renewal and spiritual growth during this time of the year.

While giving up chocolate might not seem to be something that would help a person focus on spiritual soul searching, it can still help as a little reminder... for example, every time you think about eating chocolate and then remember that you have given it up for Lent, as you begin to wonder, "Why did I give up chocolate?!!", you can then remember to ask yourself that question suggested by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement... a question he suggested we all take time to ask of ourselves and each other on a regular basis regarding our relationship with God: "How is your soul really doing"?

While some people take it very seriously, giving something up for Lent is not a "legalistic" requirement of the Christian faith... and you don't have to give up only food items... you can give up watching TV for a certain amount of time each day, or give up some other activity for a certain amount of time each day... what you give up and for what amount of time is your choice... because ultimately, it doesn't matter what you have given up, or even if you have given something up... ultimately, what really matters is the answer to the question: How is your soul really doing?

Take this season of Lent to reflect on how your soul is really doing... and to grow in your relationship with God... and if you are wondering how you can grow if you don't currently have a relationship with God, all it takes is one small step of reaching out for God... and you will find that God has been there all along.

wwwhd?

John Wesley, upon the advice of Bishop Taylor, began to keep a journal so as to have a "more exact account" of how he spent his time in ministry. Today, his journals, sermons, essays, letters, dialogs, and addresses can be found published in a several volume set entitled, The Works of John Wesley.

Had Wesley lived in the current times of the 21st century, with the internet technology that we have today, I wonder if he would he have used a web page, a blog, a vlog, or been on FaceBook, MySpace, or Twitter, in order to share the message he felt God wanted him to share with all... I suspect so... after all, Wesley did believe that "the world was his parish"...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Once Saved, Always Saved?

I recently watched a YouTube video that shows a pastor from an un-named denomination calling John Wesley [founder of the Methodist movement] a heretic because of Wesley's belief that one could "fall away" from his/her faith and "perish everlastingly".  This pastor quotes a few passages from Wesley's "Serious Thoughts Upon the Perseverance of the Saints" as he preaches about Wesley's "heretical" beliefs.  

"Perseverance of the saints" is a Christian teaching that none who are truly saved can be condemned for their sins or finally fall away from the faith.  This teaching is a part of the traditional Calvinist doctrine found in churches that adhere to the Reformed Christian confessions of faith [the Presbyterian Church is one example].  It is also a part of the Free Grace or non-traditional Calvinist doctrine found in some Baptist and other evangelical churches.  Although there are some differences between the traditional Calvinist and Free Grace [non-traditional Calvinist] doctrines, both would describe Christian believers as "once saved, always saved". 

When Wesley wrote this essay, Serious Thoughts Upon the Perseverance of the Saints, he was responding to what he felt was a need for a treatise that examined this doctrine [as found in the Reformed Christian confessions of faith]  and that was written so that most intelligent people could understand it, whether or not they were educated as theologians. [Author's note: I must admit that I think that for 21st century readers, 17th century writings can be a challenge to understand, in spite of one's level of education.]  

In his essay, Wesley askes the question,  "Can any of these [meaning "saints" - any person who has answered God's call to follow the Christian faith] fall away? By falling away, we mean, not barely falling into sin. This, it is granted, they may. But can they fall totally? Can any of these so fall from God as to perish everlastingly?"  The entire thrust of Wesley's essay was an answer to that question, and his conclusion, based on many scriptural passages, was that a "saint" could indeed fall away from the Christian faith and "perish everlastingly" [lose his/her eternal salvation].  In other words, one was not "once saved, always saved".  

This refuted Calvin's theology, which stated that those who apparently fell away from the Christian faith either never had true faith to begin with, or that they would have to return to the faith at some point in the future.  It also serves as an answer to those who believe the Free Grace Theology [non-traditional Calvinist doctrines], which, in effect, says that a person could accept Christ as Savior, but then could continue to willfully live a lifestyle of sin, or even completely walk away from their faith in Christ, but yet, still be thought of as "saved", with their eternal salvation unconditionally guaranteed.

So what do you think?  Is the pastor on the YouTube video correct - that Wesley is a "heretic" because he believes one can "so fall from God as to perish everlastingly"?  Do you believe that a person can fall from the Christian faith and lose their salvation?  Why or why not?   

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why are they called "bills"? Why not "bobs" or "teds"?

"We would be delighted if you would pay your electric bill.  You will be de-lighted if you don't."

I read that one time on a page of puns and jokes.  I was thinking about it today because I have to pay my electric bill, or risk being "de-lighted."  Fortunately, I am able to pay it...  I have the funds available.  But there are many who do not, and so have their electricity cut off.

If you are one of the more fortunate people who complain about their electric bill, but yet have the funds to pay it [like yours truly], say a prayer for the millions of those who either cannot afford their electricity, or perhaps do not even have electricity to begin with.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!!

According to an article about Valentine's Day found on History.com and the Greeting Card Association, over 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are sent each year, making this day the second largest card sending holiday of the year [topped only by Christmas].  

While the history of Valentine's Day is shrouded in mystery, the month of February has long been associated with romance.  We may never know for sure whether Valentine's Day began as a day to commemorate the death and burial of St. Valentine [which occurred around 270 AD] or whether it began as a way to "christianize" the pagan festival of Lupercalia.  But no matter how it began, Valentine's Day has long been a day for expressions of love towards those friends and family members who we cherish.  

Whether it was just with a phone call, a card and/or a box of candy or romantic dinner and evening out, it is my hope that each of you has taken time to let your loved ones know how much you love and appreciate them.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Good Book: "The Shack" by William Young

Ok...  so I may be a little behind the times in reading and telling others about this book...  but if you haven't read it, get a copy and read!!  It is an excellent book and a fairly fast and "easy" read.  I put the word easy in quotations because while it is easy to read, it will tug at your heartstrings and emotions... but it is well worth it!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Living Stones - a chosen people... and a light to the world...

I named this blog "Living Stones - a chosen people", because those of us who consider ourselves to be "Christ-followers" have indeed been chosen by our Creator...  but not "chosen" in the sense of being an exclusive group, "better" than any other peoples, and or "above" all other peoples...

Rather, we are people who have been "chosen" for a task...  we have been given a job, so to speak.  We are to be lights in the darkness of our world.  In the midst of hopelessness and despair, heartache and suffering, we are to be Christ's light so that others might have a chance to find their way through the darkness that surrounds them.  "... for you are a chosen people.  You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession.  As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."  [1 Peter 2:9 NLT]

We may be living stones, being built into God's spiritual house [1 Peter 2:5], but we must not think that we will be the only "stones" that God is looking for...   and so we must shine out with Christ's love to all those around us, in the same way that the lighthouse shown as a background picture in this blog, shines a guiding light that revolves and shines in all directions around it.  

As God's chosen people, royal priests and holy nation, we are chosen to do no less than the lighthouse...  we are chosen to shine out a light in all directions of our lives, to all we come in contact with, that they might also become a shining, living stone in God's spiritual house. 

Upon whom is your light shining today?  And is it the light of Christ that they see?  

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Year's Resolutions - Revisited

I know, I know...   here it is February and I am posting about New Year's resolutions.  Usually people only talk about them during the first few days of the new year - if they even remember them on Jan. 2nd...

I said in an earlier post, dated Dec. 30th, that I quit making resolutions...  but then I challenged those who might read this blog to make a resolution about reading through the Bible.  Well, I guess I still do make them, because once again, I have taken up the challenge that I gave out.  I am reading through the Bible this year using the "schedule" that I explained in the post from Dec. 30th...   although, I have to be honest here and admit that I am a few days behind, so I will need to read a few extra chapters for a few days in order to catch up to where I should be...  but I have gotten through the 4 gospels already.

I will from time to time post some thoughts that my reading might generate, and of course I welcome all comments, questions, etc that you might have.  And if you do not happen to think of yourself as a Christian, or as someone who is "religious", but find that you want to comment or ask questions, please feel free to do so!!  This blog is an "equal opportunity blog", so all readers are welcome to comment...  [remember the "rules of engagement" please and be civil to others in your comments].

Anyway, so much for my New Year's resolutions...   did anyone else make any?...   and are you still keeping them? 

Back in the Game

ok...  I admit...   I have been a little bummed because I have not gotten many people checking out this blog...  and I obviously took a "vacation" from posting to this blog...  but I have decided to get back in the game, so to speak.  I will begin to post again, and perhaps, little by little, folks will begin to check out the blog, and follow it.