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Showing posts from April, 2013

Real Fruit

This next Sunday we'll complete a short five week series on "Growing".  I started this four Sundays ago because I had the idea of doing five messages on this theme using a metaphor of the Garden to describe how we can grow.
The outcome of real growth - whether in a garden, or in our own lives - is fruit.  God built into the creation...plants, animals, humans...the ability to grow.  Growth leads to reproduction.  When we are growing we are able to reproduce, and that leads to real fruit.

Many years ago I began to seek Christ in order to follow him and allow his life to define my life.  It led me to lots of realizations - mainly along the line of my own flesh, and the need to deal with that flesh in order to continue to grow.  Because of some habitual behaviors I was stuck...not growing.
I picked up a book - small and short - but packed with insight into why we don't grow.  From the author I went back to the New Testament and saw the words of Jesus.

John 12:23-26 (ESV)…

Catechism Anyone?

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)
4  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 
I grew up in the Lutheran church.  As such I was put into Catechism classes where I was instructed in what the Lutheran church believed so that after Catechism I could become a communicant.  I went through all of that with little fervor.  I went because I had to, and after it was all over with I drifted from the church and faith for about 8 more years. Was the problem catechism? No, The problems were my age - way to young to understand or appreciate what I was to learn;  and, my purpose in being there - I had to go, and I didn't therefore want to learn.
I don't propose we go back to instruction through Catechism instruction; but I do think there is much to be gained by reading and understanding the historical Catechisms.  The people who wrote these lived at the time of the Reformation and their understanding of faith was not merely intellec…

A Lazy View of God?

Psalm 95:6-7 (NIV)
6  Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7  for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care...


Psalm 18:1-2 (NIV)
1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2  The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


This morning I was reading a biography of John Calvin.  Calvin does not get many accolades among modern  Christians.  He's been called many names and few of them give him much credit; but that is all based on ignorance.  Those people who speak in negative ways toward him have never read his works, nor studied his life with a view of the historical and cultural context in which he lived.

There is an early letter of his that is a response to a Catholic Cardinal by the name of Sadoleto, who had attacked the Reform and appealed to Geneva's church and authorities to return to the Catholic chu…

Roots

Taking a look outside I see the snow gone, the ground has soaked up lots of moisture over the last week with rain coming almost every day; and it looks like it will continue with rain in the forecast for the next week also.
It's Spring and the April showers are what brings the May flowers.

But what's most vital about these rains is the replenishing of the soil and the ability of the roots to have moisture to supply the life of the plant.

Roots...the greatest need is the health of the roots, for the health of the plant above, on the surface - that which is outward appearance and where fruit appears - all depends on the health of the roots.

Paul says to his young Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)
7  Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
8  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Train yourself.
Our relationship wi…

Birth

John 16:21 (ESV)
21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

Yesterday, April 10th, at 6:30 central time, our daughter delivered twin boys, Joel Elliott (on left) and Simeon John (right).  Both were nearly 6 lbs, and boys and Mom are doing fine.

When Lindsay announced last Fall that she was pregnant with twins a second time, we all were pleasantly shocked.  Lindsay was delighted to be carrying twins a second time.  The older twins, Raewyn and Theo are now almost 3 1/2 yrs old.  I'm not sure how were going to designate the two sets of twins.  Being a twin myself all sorts of names are cast at two - "the twins", "the boys", and one I remember all to well - "you boys". Perhaps we'll just resort to the names - I know I preferred Elliott to other sorts of renditions.
I referred to the verse …

Waiting

Waiting is perhaps the hardest thing to do in life. In fact, I hate waiting...
Linda will tell you that I am not very good at waiting.  When she is late, or I'm sitting waiting for her to get out of an appointment, or I have a meeting and others are late, I don't do well. A certain force of "judgment" creeps in and I find I need to think positively instead of the almost automatic desire to yell..."what are you doing?"  
I hate waiting...
This morning I'm waiting.  My daughter is having her twins delivered by C section.  In fact, she's gone to the delivery/operating room as I write, and I'm waiting for the news...anxiously, prayerfully, expectantly, hopefully...Oh God, please be with her and the twins.
Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV)
5  For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
6  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8  …

My Greatest Need, Our Greatest Need

I heard the story of a man walking up a hill when he encountered a dense fog.  He didn't know where he was and then he stumbled upon a rock, so he stood on it hoping to get a better look.  As he pulled out his GPS he thought - "Ok, there's North...that's the way to go"; only to find that North changed immediately.  Wondering how it could happen he stepped off of the rock, only to hear the rock say "Baaaaaaaah".  It was a sheep!

Sometimes the world seems to be shifting, changing at such a rapid rate that it is hard to get our bearings.  I confess, the problems we deal with today are unprecedented, and seem to be shifting by the week.  I thought I had problems as a Pastor 30 years ago helping people navigate questions of life; but as I look back most of those issues seem fairly benign these days.

What is needed, of course, in the process of living out Christ in our world these days is Wisdom.  Take a journey with me through some scripture and think about …

A Vision for Growth

Hi all,
This week I'm going to post a couple of days worth of readings...sort of a "prompter" for additional thinking, and perhaps praying about this idea of growth.
Yesterday I began a short five week series on growing up in Christ.
If you were there, you'll remember that the key is being "Intentional".  We don't grow haphazardly, or randomly, we grow on purpose, because we choose to do something and practice it over and over to get it right.

Here's a couple of passages to read, pray, and ponder, then read the question after:

Micah 6:8 (ESV)
8  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of youbut to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God?

Galatians 5:13-26 (ESV)
13  For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The roots of despair

Reading through Ecclesiastes is a very enjoyable "wake-up" to life.  It hits me that he really thought about what life was basically all about, and he makes some rather startling and honest confessions:

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (ESV)
9  What gain has the worker from his toil?
10  I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
11  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
12  I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;
13  also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.


And this is at its basic core, a simple way to view living.  God is good, everything he does is beautiful...so let's enjoy God in the very basics of life...BUT Reality Check Time:

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11 (ESV)
8  All things are full o…

He is No Fool

Psalm 14:1 (ESV)
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,there is none who does good.


April Fools Day...a day of "light-hearted" tricks that has it's origin in the changing of a calendar.  Up until the late 16th century, most countries celebrated the beginning of the new year near April 1, nearest the Equinox - certain traditions had it around March 25.  Then in 1582, Pope Gregory, proclaimed the a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) which was a corrective calendar to put the earth year in a much closer proximity to the Solar year.  We still use the Gregorian calendar today.  But the new calendar changed the beginning of the new year to January 1.  According to tradition many people mocked the change of celebrating the new year and continued to celebrate it on April 1.
There are other interpretations of how this day came into being; but my purpose in writing this is to point out that the real fool is the one who ign…