Monday, May 31, 2010

Knowing God - John 5:6-7

(from Pastor)

Jesus said to him,

"Do you want to be made well?" 
The sick man answered him,
"Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up ..."
John 5:6-7
Have you ever laid in a hospital bed? Or sat for days with a loved one there?
Have you ever had a much-too-happy aid come in -- oblivious to the gravity of your situation -- and said something as inane as "Do you want to be made well?" Has a sarcastic "of-course-I-want-to-be-made-well" ever been the gentlest response you can manage?
The man at the pools of Bethzatha, looked for a physical answer to a life-long illness. How many of us look for physical answers when the deeper problem is really spiritual?
God can cure the physical. He did in this man's case. But sometimes the greater miracle is not physical. Sometimes the greatest miracle is faith in a world of pain.
Faith is all that ultimately matters to Jesus. Why? Because if we have faith we will ultimately be healed (and ultimately means in the realm of "no more mourning or crying or pain"). But if we don't have faith, all physical healing is destined to be temporary. (More meat ... less fat ... in the eternal barbeque.)
God aims for the permanent. How about you?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be even more permanent
than a Sharpie

The pain doesn't have to be physical. It can be emotional as well. Sometimes emotional pain is so intense a person will do almost anything to physically feel the pain.  In the realm of emotional pain - hearing people say "Just think happy thoughts" is enough to trigger a sarcastic or caustic remark from me.  God can cure the emotional as well. But again - the greatest miracle is faith - even in a world of emotional pain.  

My faith is a bit shaky. I am always asking questions.  I want to understand. I want to know that God is healing me. I want the healing to be permanent. I can't go through many more months like the past several. 

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Proverbs 14:1-15:33

There are so many little nuggets in these words.  If we would truly follow them, heed them - then life would be so much easier. Yet we are a stubborn creation. Given to folly. anger. brash words.  Keep reading them on your own.


Sunday, May 30, 2010


I have often said of God - "I know he cares.  But I don't trust him not to hurt me again" (or let me get hurt again)


It's huge. And when you've been hurt by ... life ... it can be a very fragile thing.  It can be something you hold onto so tightly you don't share it. You don't allow it to grow. strengthen. foster.

by definition trust means: (noun) Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing, Custody; care, Something committed into the care of another; charge, The condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in one, One in which confidence is placed, Reliance on something in the future; hope, Reliance on the intention and ability of a purchaser to pay in the future; credit.
(verb) To have or place reliance; depend, To be confident; hope, To have or place confidence in; depend on, To expect with assurance; assume, To believe, To place in the care of another; entrust, To grant discretion to confidently, To extend credit to.

Recently I heard a speaker talk about trust.  He said that we trust other drivers on the road to follow the laws and be safe. We trust restaurants to prepare our food correctly and safely. We trust relative strangers to care for our children. We trust clerks to total our orders correctly.

Yet - we don't trust God. The creator of the universe. The one who loves us more than any. The one who sent his son to die a painful death - because of our sins. How can we trust all these things of the world yet not God?

We have hurts in our lives. Things that make it difficult to trust other humans.  systems set up by humans. things created by humans.  But so often we blame God. because he created humans.

But ...

He gave us free will. He doesn't break his own rules.  Yes - other humans will hurt us. Yes - we will hurt ourselves. But God is still faithful. He is still good.  I think.  I still don't fully trust him. I also worry about my children when they are with strangers until I get to know them.

I grew up with an old hymn -
Trust and obey
For there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey.

I am learning. Are you? Trust and Obedience ... easy to say ... so hard to do. 


Know God - John 4:50

(from Pastor)

The man believed the word
that Jesus spoke to him
and started on his way.
John 4:50
Belief -- even without seeing -- is a huge spiritual point in the Gospel of John. Thomas missed the first glimpse of the resurrection and said, "Unless I see ... I will not believe."
The "royal official whose son ... was at the point of death ... believed the word that Jesus spoke ... 'You son will live.'" He didn't see the healing. He just trusted. And based on his faith, he acted immediately -- he started on his way, he set off toward home.
What is the Word that you know God is speaking to you right now? Sometimes God comforts the afflicted -- is that what he's saying? Other times he "afflicts the comfortable!" Do you "need" some reorienting affliction? Quite frequently, God calls us in a new direction we should go. Other times he simply convicts us of some sin. (Don't miss that one!)
Unlike our kids often do with us, what if we simply believed the word that we knew was from God and acted immediately.
What is the Word that you know God is speaking to you right now?
In Christ's Love,
a Thomas
who doesn't want to doubt


The royal official went off for home right away - but he actually saw Jesus. Heard the words from his mouth.  I'd believe him right away as well.  For me - God is still awfully quiet.  However, the word I am hearing most often right now is a quiet, gentle, "Trust me."  "Choose life."  "I care."  Believing him is still difficult. 

Several years ago, I heard an interesting take on doubting Thomas - stay tuned for that post.  

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Proverbs 11:1-13:25

These chapters contain many of Solomon's proverbs.  They are something that can be read over and over and you find a new jewel every single time.  I want to encourage you to go read them for yourself. 


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Knowing God - John 4:34

(from Pastor)

My food is
to do the will of him who sent me
and to complete his work.
John 4:34
My food is Oreos, Doritoes, and Nachos. I would do better with Jesus' diet!
If anyone other Jesus' said, "My food is to do God's will," we'd call them hopelessly pious. Jesus, however, was satisified by nothing else.
"Man does not live by bread alone," said Jesus, "But by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
May we hunger for God's Word ... and be satisified by nothing less than doing his will.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who is a nut
(if, indeed, you are what you eat) 


I have been to Pastor's house ... it truly is a nuthouse! What an amazing diet plan - wonder what would happen if we all followed it?

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Proverbs 8:1-10:32

Wisdom ... you just need to read chapter 8.  Wisdom was present before creation. Will keep us safe from harm. Will help us do what is right in the eye of God. We need wisdom. However, we often choose to ignore it.

9:10-12 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, 
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 
For through me your days will be many, 
and years will be added to your life. 
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; 
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer."



Friday, May 28, 2010

Knowing God - John 4:17

(from Pastor)

You are right in saying,
'I have no husband’
John 4:17
In our generation, it seems like everybody has a past. Few of us would make it past the purity police -- especially in terms of previous marriages and past relationships.
The woman at the well -- whom Jesus is talking to in this verse -- is the patron saint of messy pasts. Five former "marriages" and "the man you're living with now is not your husband."
Some Christians don't tolerate tarnished pasts. Jesus wasn't one of them. It's not the past that matters, but the present and the future. Jesus had just told the woman at the well about "living water." Yes, it quenches our thirst, but even more so, Jesus longs to use it to wash us clean.
What in your past haunts or tarnishes you? May the living liquid of his grace wash you clean.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to shave his head
(so my forgiven self will look as clean as Mr. Clean) 

I will admit - I am ashamed of my past. But it has shaped who I am today - a fact I am trying to recover from.  Our pasts have a way of searing into our thoughts who we have been told by humans who we are. Not who God thinks we are.  Christ washes us clean.  He loves us anyway. He doesn't care about what we did. He cares about us loving him.  serving him.  despite being tarnished pots.

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Proverbs 5:1-7:27

Warnings about adultery - how it can ruin you - but you don't realize what is happening until it is too late.  It is best to stay far away from the temptation so you won't get swallowed in it. 
5:21 For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths.

We are warned to not give in to folly - we don't always need someone to tell us the right thing to do. We should just know - and do it. 
6:6-8 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 
It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 
yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
Here is a list of things the Lord does not like - and we are all guilty of doing them:
6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. 


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Knowing God - John 4:10

(from Pastor)
"If you knew the gift of God,
and who it is that is saying to you,
'Give me a drink,’
you would have asked him,
and he would have given you living water."
John 4:10
My wife -- the medical one in the family -- tells me that coffee (and caffeine) are diuretics. In other words, they may go down wet, but they don't really quench your thirst. (To be blunt: Make you pee more, and, therefore, leave you thirstier than before.)
In John 4, Jesus is saying that too many of the ways of the world are spiritual diuretics. They may go down wet and satisfying, but they leave us spiritually parched. We chase after worldly satisfactions, and we wonder why we're still unsatisfied. We wonder why we feel deep down like we're as thirsty as if we'd just run a marathon on a hot day. 
The key to growth in faith is to monitor your level of spiritual hydration. Only Christ can give you living water. Only Jesus can truly quench our thirst.
In Christ's Love,
a former advertiser who wonders
whether spiritual Gatorade
would see better than Living Water
(ahhh ... just give me Jesus!)
I was parched ... completely dry ... my cup was empty. Slowly there is some spiritual moisture returning to the bottom of the cup. It is nowhere close to overflowing ... Just the bottom is damp. I want my thirst quenched.
I recently learned that I need 90 ounces of water a day - and Pepsi and Cheerwine don't count. (darn!)  I know I am dehydrated - spiritually and physically. Both bring you down. How do we truly fill our cup?

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Proverbs 2:1 - 4:27

I will not be able to do the book of Proverbs justice. I hope that you read it yourself - over and over - you will continue to find jewels in there that you didn't see before. It is an ever changing book for me.

2:3-5 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 
then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
We live in a time of instant gratification. We want everything - NOW!  There are few treasure hunts anymore. We don't have the patience for it. Gaining wisdom and understanding take patience and perseverance.  And action. We have to be willing to call out, cry aloud, look and search.

3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and 
lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways acknowledge him, 
and he will make your paths straight.
I have trouble with this one ... trust ... If I can't get that part then the rest won't come. Maybe if I do the second part - lean not on my own understanding, don't try to figure out everything on my own - then the trust will come. 
The last few verses of chapter 4 implore us to guard our hearts, watch what we say, watch where we look and not to stray off the path.  In our time - it is getting increasingly difficult to do all that. We are bombarded visually and auditorially with negative messages all the time. How do we escape that? Guarding hearts is a constant battle.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friends on the Journey

Sometimes you are in a situation where you meet people and realize that you are going to be friends for a long time.  While at The Place, I met a few such people.  Since coming home I have talked with my friends either via phone, facebook or text a few times a week. We are all struggling with transitioning back to this world. Wearing the masks - unwillingly. Sometimes it would be easier to be back there - where we could be real and honest - and know someone is there to catch us when we aren't strong enough anymore.  People who are on the same journey. Who understand the bumps and curves and rough spots.

It is calming, comforting, peaceful to talk to them. To know that they are still there and that we can connect through the miles.  To be a support for them just as they are for me.

They are truly my friends on the journey. Will we stay in touch for months or years? Time will tell. Will they always be a part of my story? my life? Absolutely!


Knowing God - John 3:30

(from Pastor)

"He [Jesus] must increase,
but I [John the Baptist] must decrease."
John 3:30
Daily I am praying for revival -- mine, first; our church, our nations.
Someone said to me recently that "I heard revivals are often short-lived."
"It's true," I said, "The Holy Spirit comes down powerfully for a period of time. And then that magnificent season sometimes ends as quickly as it started."
"Do we really want to pray for something that may come and go."
"Absolutely," I said, "after all, do you know how long John the Baptist's ministry was? I've heard that it was maybe as short as six months. But wouldn't it be worth everything in creation to be as alive as John for even six months ... and have even a fraction of his impact on the kingdom?"
And wouldn't you love a faith so trusting that could joyfully say, "If something better may increase, let my moment decrease?"    
In Christ's Love,
a guy who says,
"my whole life here on earth
for six months like that!"

Less of me. More of God. Revival.  

What does revival really mean? Of course I looked it up! Here it is ...

an act or instance of reviving : the state of being revived, renewed attention to or interest in something, a new presentation or publication of something old, a period of renewed religious interest, an often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings, restoration of force, validity, or effect, A restoration to use, acceptance, activity, or vigor after a period of obscurity or quiescence.

It comes from 'revive' which has it's roots in Middle English reviven, from Old French revivre, from Latin revvere, to live again : re-, re- + vvere, to live; seegwei- in Indo-European roots.

Does a revival have to be sudden? A flash? Can it be a slow start? A buildup? Steady embers that grow in intensity?  I have been learning how to live again. I am being revived. But there is still a very long way to go. I am undergoing a personal revival - I am in a state of being revived.

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1 Kings 10:1-13, 2 Chronicles 9:1-12, 1 Kings 4:1-19, 4:29-34, Proverbs 1:1-33

10:1 ... the queen of Sheba ... came to test [Solomon] with hard questions.  I like her already!! 

And Solomon answered her questions - none of them were too hard for him. I wonder what those questions were and why we didn't see them or get the answers. 

Ben-Hur was one of Solomon's 12 12 district governors who supplied the palace with provisions one month a year. Is this the same Ben-Hur that the movie was based on? I haven't seen it so I don't know. 

4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  It is rare to meet someone with all 3 - wouldn't it be amazing to have a conversation with him! He wrote over 3000 proverbs, but we only have a select few. 

Speaking of Proverbs - we start that book today.  It opens with the purpose behind them ...
1:2-6 for attaining wisdom and discipline; 
for understanding words of insight; 
for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, 
doing what is right and just and fair; 
for giving prudence to the simple, 
knowledge and discretion to the young--  
let the wise listen and add to their learning, 
and let the discerning get guidance-- 
for understanding proverbs and parables, 
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
They are for all ages. All knowledge levels. Everyone can benefit from studying the Proverbs and learning from them.  Solomon wastes no time with warnings - he starts right off with telling his sons to be careful - not to follow others into sin. Essentially - not to give into negative peer pressure. 

There is then a warning about rejecting wisdom - rejecting the fear of the LORD. Here are two version of v32. How often are we overconfident? Or don't really care? Or even don't listen? 

1:32 For the aimless wandering of the thoughtless will kill them, 
and the smug overconfidence of fools will destroy them; (CJB) 
1:32 Fools will die because they refuse to listen; 
they will be destroyed because they do not care. (NCV)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Knowing God - John 3:17

(from Pastor)

"God did not send the Son
into the world to condemn the world,
but in order that the world
might be saved through him."
John 3:17
If you love John 3:16 ... I invite you to love the next verse just as much.
John 3:16 is full of love, grace, forgiveness, and the remarkable assurance that God loves YOU so much that he's (and the son) are willing to submit to the pain of death for YOU.
John 3:17 adds one more assurance ... Many people see God (and church and Christians) as legalistic and judgmental. The sacrificial life of Jesus is, however, the exact opposite of condemnation.
Many of us are imprisoned by our past sins and too many say, "God can't forgive me."
John 3:17 reminds us that Christ is literally dying to forgive you.
Condemnation? No! Freedom.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who believes
that those who don't know history
are condemned to repeat it 


condemn - to express strong disapproval of, to pass judgment, sentence to punishment

God was trying to avoid more of that. He passed judgment and punished the Israelites so much and they kept disobeying. He sent his son to cover our sins once and for all. To save us from ourselves.  I believe God has forgiven me for my sins.  But ... I am unable to forgive me for my sins. God is big enough to do it, I'm not.

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1 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Psalm - see post too many to list!

1 Kings 8:62-66, 2 Chronicles 7:4-10, Psalm 132:1-18, 1 Kings 9:1-9, 2 Chronicles 7:11-22, 1 Kings 9:10-14, 2 Chronicles 8:1-3, 1 Kings 9:24, 2 Chronicles 8:11, 1 Kings 9:25, 2 Chronicles 8:12-16, 1 Kings 9:17-19, 2 Chronicles 8:4-6, 1 Kings 9:26-28, 2 Chronicles 8:17-18, 1 Kings 10:22, 2 Chronicles 9:21

8:66/7:10 and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the LORD had done
 God told Solomon that his eyes and heart live in the temple - we say the eyes are the window to the soul  and also that God lives in our hearts.  He is watching and caring. He could have said his nose and pinky toe live there - but he didn't. Without out hearts we don't live. we don't feel. we don't exist.  heart is what separates us from other animals. emotion. feeling. caring. 

He then goes on to tell Solomon that if he doesn't obey and follow his decrees, then his descendants will pay the price.  Hmmm...does he follow in the typical footsteps??? 

9:13 Land of Cabul, a name they have to this day Is this the same as Kabul, Afghanistan? (According to a bible history site, it is.)  

Solomon sent out ships - they brought back apes and baboons. (among other stuff) Wonder what they did with them.


Monday, May 24, 2010

2 Chronicles 6:1-11, 1 Kings 8:22-61, 2 Chronicles 6:12-7:3

The dedication of the temple ...

8:56-61 ... "Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people ... just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. And may ... all the peoples of the earth ... know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time." 
 Sometimes there is nothing left to say ...


Knowing God - John 3:10

(from Pastor)

Jesus answered him,
"Are you a teacher of Israel,
and yet you do not understand these things?"
John 3:10
Read Jesus' words again. Our fear of not knowing everything absolutely paralyzes God's church. Therefore ...
+ We don't go to Bible Studies ("I might not know something and look stupid"). 
+ We don't evangelize ("What if they ask me something I don't know?").
+ And we don't teach -- our kids or classes at church ("I don't know enough").
I was in a Bible study a few weeks ago and threw out a term that I thought was readily understandable. One of the longer-term students in the group finally said, "What does that mean?!" And all the others cheered. "Thank you."
I loved the hunger to understand! And I loved -- even more -- the willingness to risk asking the question. I am certain that Jesus did too when he said to Nicodemous, "are you a teacher ... and yet do not understand ..." He wasn't judging! He was clarifying what was and wasn't known so that in John 3 he could teach some of history's deepest truths. (Where would we be without Nicodemus' questions and John 3:16?)
Fear paralyzes us ... and the church. Be bold. Clarify. Everyone will be richer.
In Christ's Love,
a dumb guy
(because I haven't always asked the right questions
and have been dumber because of it)

To respond to the statements - 
+ I don't go to bible study ... because there isn't one offered right now. Everything is pausing for the summer. This drives me nuts! (a short trip to be certain!) I actually have more time to devote to study in the summer. Even Sunday School/Faith Building stops in the summer. Do we not need to continue learning and growing when it is warm outside?

+ I don't evangelize ... No. I don't go door to door. I had some horrid experiences as a youth doing that.  I prefer to live my life and make small connections. Answer questions when asked. I know where to go if I don't know the answer. 

+ I do teach my kids. And I have offered to help teach at church - just certain ages. 

I am always asking questions (ask pastor - he'll verify that!) I love to learn. The more I learn, the less I realize I know and understand. So I want to learn that much more. 

And there are no wrong questions!

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Knowing God - John 3:2

(from Pastor)
He came to Jesus by night
John 3:2
The Gospel portrait of the Pharisees is: Whitewashed tombs. Clean as a freshly scrubbed up on the outside, but full of greed, self-indulgence, legalism, and pride on the inside (see Mt 23:25-26).
Fortunately, at least one Pharisee defied the stereotype. Nicodemus was hungry for the truth. Therefore, he sought out a humble carpenter who reflected the way, the truth, and the life. Isn't it fascinating, though, that he did it at night, under the cloak of darkness?
I've watched too many spy movies (to be sure) and a few comic spy capers like Get Smart. Therefore, I always imagine Nicodemus as Maxwell Smart -- sneaking between the shadows, looking over his shoulder, dialing Pharisee number 99 on his sandal phone, and meeting with Jesus under the cone of silence.
How many people in our sphere of influence are hungry for the way, the truth, and the life, but they've dug themselves into a prideful hole? They dare not admit that they need help ... need faith ... need healing ... need God. They're so scarred by life that they cannot believe that they can be loved. They cannot come forward publicly. It would be too embarrassing.
Who do you know like that? Tell them about Nicodemus. And encourage them to sneak into God, church, and faith undercover. (For example, many people can't imagine coming to a church worship service -- "the roof might cave in" -- but they wouldn't mind being invited to a picnic!)
In Christ's Love,
Agent 32
(as in John 3:2)
Amazingly enough - even those that know Christ are too scared to admit that they need help ... need healing. They also are too scarred by life that they can't believe that they can be loved.  I am one of those.  I don't like asking for help - or accepting it. I know I need healing.  I also don't think I am deserving or worthy of love. Why would anyone love me? I know in my  head that God Does love me. Sometimes doing something 'under the cloak of darkness' is easier than openly admitting you need help in the daylight.

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1 Kings 7:13-51, 2 Chronicles 4:1-5:1, 1 Kings 8:1-21, 2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Details of the furnishings of the temple - bronze and gold.

The Ark of the Covenant was brought in and place in the Holy of Holies. Then 8:10-13 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. Then Solomon said, "The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever." 

2 Chronicles 5:13 ... "He is good; his love endures forever."


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Knowing God - John 2:17

(from Pastor)
His disciples remembered that it was written,
"Zeal for your house will consume me."
John 2:17
John doesn't record my favorite line in the cleansing of the temple: "My house shall be called a house of prayer" (Mt 21:13, Mk 11:17, Lk 19:46 -- all based on Isaiah 56:7). Thankfully, John's remembrance enriches us with another verse -- based on Psalm 69:9, "Zeal for your house will consume me."
When you think of "church" -- Spirit of Joy -- what do you think of? I urge you to lift two words to the top of your list: prayer and zeal.
Pray more and more for you church ... and in your church. Come early. Stay late. Pray for our council and leaders. Pray for our hurting brothers and sisters. Lift up our kids in a society intent on dumbing them down. Ask for reconciliation with those who've hurt you. Seek to know those who are new as true brothers and sisters in Christ.
And zeal ... Zeal means passion, enthusiasm, eager desire, fervor, and love. What keeps you from zeal for God's house -- our church -- in your life? Whichever one of those words for zeal is missing in your heart, start praying for it daily. "Lord, help me have a fervor for church and service -- not just an exhaustion in my life and work." "Lord, help me be enthusiastic supporter of ____ ministry."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who hungers for
a stronger and stronger and even stronger
house of prayer  
When I think of Spirit of Joy, I think of comfort, a safe place, peacefulness. I have often gone there to pray - alone.  I have found such peace in the sanctuary - even now with no a/c. When my heart and soul are troubled and aching, I can go to the sanctuary and sit in a favorite spot, or kneel by the altar and feel such comfort.  I especially enjoy being there when it is dark outside and the streetlights shine through the stained glass and it is quiet. 

I also want to support SOJ.  It is my NC family. And to be part of a family means to be involved.  I am still trying to find my place and my fit ... while dealing with a lot of life stuff.  But that is what is so great about SOJ. It is a safe place to deal with hurts.  I am so very thankful for SOJ and the people there.  Often it feels like more of a home than my home. 

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1 Kings 5:13-18, 2 Chronicles 2:2, 2 Chronicles 2:17-18, 1 kings 9:15-16, 1 Kings 9:20-23, 2 Chronicles 8:7-10, 1 Kings 6:1-38, 2 Chronicles 3:1-17, Psalm 127:1-5, 1 Kings 7:1-12

The details of the building of the temple.  The men worked for 1 month and had 2 months off - that says a lot about how hard they worked!  The slave labor consisted of aliens in the land . Israelites were soldiers and commanders.

All the rocks were dressed at the quarry - no iron tool was used at the temple site.  It was a pretty quiet construction site. Imagine a quiet construction site these days - no saw, no hammers, no noise to wake you up before you are ready to face the day.  Everything inside was overlaid with cedar - the aroma must have been amazing!!!  Have you ever walked into a cedar lined closet? Or opened a trunk lined with cedar? ... mmmmm ... In all, the temple took 7 years to build.  But his palace took 13.

Psalm 127:2 ... for he grants sleep to those he loves. - there have been days and nights when sleep was hard to get. Interesting verse ...


Friday, May 21, 2010

Knowing God - John 2:7

(from Pastor)

Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water."
And they filled them up to the brim
John 2:7
It didn't make sense.
They were out of wine. Why fill the barrels with water?
Sometimes our instructions to our kids don't make sense. We say stop. They go three more steps, then think about slowing down. From their perspective, there's no reason to halt. But what if there was a snake? Obedience matters. Immediate obedience matters.
It didn't make sense for the stewards at the wedding in Cana to fill the jars with water. In fact, many of the passages in the Bible don't immediately make sense ... at least from our human perspective. But miracles happen when godly obedience exceeds human reasoning.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to write a hundred times,
Obey immediately.
Obey immediately.
Obey immediately.
Obey immediately.
Obey immediat.....
Hmmm.... we make the kids write sentences sometimes - I'll have to remember this one.  

Even as adults, do we obey? Not like we should? Why not? As my 7 year son says frequently when asked why he didn't obey "I didn't want to."  Obedience is a choice. Immediate obedience is a choice that requires an automatic response - there is no other option but to obey first.  It has to be ingrained in us that we obey first and then later - maybe - ask 'why?'  And maybe not get an answer.  

Song of Songs 5:1-8:14, Psalm 45:1-17, 1 Kings 5:1-12, 2 Chronicles 2:1, 2:3-16

confession - I don't want to read today much less process it. I have stared at this off and on for almost 1 1/2 hours.  But I will.

There were more words of adoration for the lover and his beloved. 

1 Kings 5:12 The LORD gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him. -- God kept his promise. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Knowing God - John 16:33

(from Pastor)
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33
Confirmation used to be an ordeal for many young Lutherans. "Every Sunday we had to sit on the front row of the church and take notes on the Pastor's sermon. And he'd stare down from us from the pulpit whenever we missed jotting down one of the points."
We live in a kinder, gentler era of church going. Much of it is for the better. But there was a very good purpose for this note-taking. We remember about 5% of what we hear, but we remember about 15-20% of what we write down.
Therefore, if you want my sermons to four times better, take notes!!!
I'm reminded of this because of an email I received today entitled, "Your Sermon Blessed My Socks Off." I opened it immediately (of course) ... and I pass on to you as an encouragement to be a note-taker ...
Dear Pastor Ed, 
 Last week I ran into notes I took from one of your sermons preached some time ago.  It was based on, "In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world."
You asked, "what would our lives look like if when we experienced tribulations we realized Jesus had already overcome it?  We would then be able to be Of Good Cheer. 
You also quoted, "your new name will be contentment ...  joyful and ______. (My notes are at home and I am at work.)
I don't know how much that sermon blessed me the first time but after spending the last 5 days [in] reflection and prayer ... it blessed me immensely--it made me JOYFUL. 
I just wanted to bless you for blessing me.
God has more blessings in store for each of us than we can possibly remember. (So take notes ... you may remember a few more!)
Note: I know of another member who carries a notebook in her purse. All the sermons and all her blessings go in that book. It's a traveling treasury of insight and joy.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to develop writer's cramp
from remembering and writing down
all of God's lessons and blessings 
I am a note-taker. I have sermon notes from high school - some over 25 years old.  When we look for a new church when we move, one criteria I have is how easy it is to take notes on the sermon. Some preachers never get to the point. Some just ramble. Some do an intro, 3 points, conclusion.  Going back and reading the notes, I can often tell how I was doing during that time - based on emphasis, amount of notes, doodles, etc.  My current book is literally falling apart. I started it in 2006. It is almost full - 4 years later. But I have used it more than once to refer to previous conference and sermon notes.  

I am transitioning into a different place in life. I am also in need of a new sermon notes book.  I have been toying with keeping a gratitude list and a blessing/where I see God list.  I need something I can refer to when I don't see God. When life is rough - as it will be.  Dong so will help me to be of good cheer and remember that God is coming - we will triumph over tribulation.

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Psalm 50:1-23, Song of Songs 1:1-4:16

Psalm 50 - start off with extolling the greatness, awesomeness, power of God. Then warns the unbelievers that he will tear them to pieces if they keep speaking against him.  Gives hope in a time like ours. We don't need to worry about the declining Christianity in our country - God will handle the people that speak out against him.

Now ... Song of Songs/Solomon ... the sexiest book of the bible. One of the more ignored books in most churches. We still have so many puritan ideals - it is humorous sometimes!  How many of us long to hear words of affirmation. words of praise. of love from our spouses? I tried to imagine my husband saying this stuff to me - and couldn't keep a straight face.  But to be told how lovely and wanted you are by the person you hold most dear ... it would be amazing!

2:4 ... his banner over me is love.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Tonight I was blessed to listen to a high school senior practice an inspiration speech she was giving.  It was amazing!! She quoted Michael J. Fox as saying, "I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."

Perfection. Something only one person has ever achieved in their lives.  Then that person willingly died as an innocent man a brutal death so that we can - in our imperfect state - hope to spend eternity with him.  

Perfectionist. Something too many of us are yet we can never achieve.  It can be debilitating.  I know that I do not start a project if there is any thought that I will not be able to do it correctly, or do it the way I want it done.  Or I will start something and never finish it.  Typically type A personalities. I took a couple of quizzes and was solidly type/perfectionist in every single one.  

Part of the problem with being type A - is that you have no room to fail. No room to experiment. You increase your stress by being hard on yourself. And placing unattainable expectations on yourself.  Here is the pot calling the kettle black - I KNOW what I NEED to do - but since I can never do it correctly - I don't do it at all.  Self defeating, I know.  

So, in the meantime I am trying to learn how to be an excellencist.  The best I can be (without joining the Army). Excellent in His eyes.  A type J for Jesus.


Knowing God - Matthew 6:13

(from Pastor)
And lead us not into temptation ...
Matthew 6:13
I love it when people ask me questions about faith and scripture. Occasionally, I will pass them on to the rest of you, figuring if one person's interest, others may be too. Here's today's question ...
How do you explain the phrase of the Lord's Prayer that says "Lead us not into temptation" when the Bible says that God does not tempt us? (James 1:13-14) 
God does NOT tempt us -- nor lead us in that direction. How does we know this? Because it is never God's desire for us to enter into sin because sin is incompatible with God's nature. As it says in 1 John 3:9, "[when] God's seed [God's life, God's nature] abides in [us], [we will not] make a practice of sinning."
Nevertheless, God allows us to be put into situations where our faith is tested and strengthened. As it says in 1 Peter 1:7, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold -- and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.
Where do we find hard, challenging, tempting situations? In every corner of daily life! As Paul puts it -- 1 Cor 10:13 -- "No temptation has seized you except what is common to [all]."
What's our hope? God! His power. His guidance. His intervention ... as we allow him to truly work through us. Again Paul says -- same verse 1 Corinthians 10:13 -- "When you are tempted, [God] will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
Does God lead us into temptation? No. Life does! And life's hard knocks can purify us if we let them. 
        Furthermore, we need to take strength in this: God will protect us in and through all our trials if we let him! Again 1 Corinthians 10:13 -- "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's succumbed to temptations
and is continually learning to rely on God's power 
instead of mine
Free will.  Our own. Others'.  That is what leads us into temptation. James 1:13-14 says, "When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." However, God has provided ways out. He also won't let us go too far.  We may disagree, but he sees the big picture - the finished product.  He is a loving father who will let us make choices that aren't the best and watch and be at the ready when we call out to him for help.  

But He is also offering to strengthen us so we don't get to that point in the first place.  God's seed, his nature, is in us. The more we nurture that, the less we will sin. The less we will succumb to temptation.  He isn't leading us into temptation - he is leading us to purification. to eternal life with him.

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