Month: December 2011

Role Reversal

So I had to recall back just a few months ago when I was ordained and installed as a pastor.  What a wonderful day that was for me!  God had graciously given me this call here.  I heard words from my fellow brothers in the ministry as they shared words of encouragement to me in the laying on of hands.  Now still green behind the ears, the role was reversed. 

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to go to the installation of one of my brothers in the ministry at an area church.  I was excited because I could proclaim some words of encouragement to him.  The words I heard helped me.  So now the question dawned on me all last week.  What passage should I use?  Who am I to give him encouragement?  I wanted it to be memorable.  I had about ten passages flowing through my mind.  Finally it dawned on me.  I should speaks words of encouragement based on a passage that I found especially encouraging.  So I decided to use Isaiah 41:10.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Those words are particularly comforting to me.  Whenever the stresses of the ministry start to catch up to me, God’s words here give me the strength to keep going not afraid.  God upholds us. 

As I look back on Sunday afternoon, what a privilege that was.  The whole service reminded me of why I am here.  It strengthened me.  What’s more, I got to encourage a brother who has been at a church for less time than I have.  God willing I hope to have this opportunity again.  A few months ago I was the one kneeling and hearing encouragement.  Last weekend, the role was reversed.  What a joy and privilege that was.

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I’m Worthless.

Isaiah 40:1-11

 

40          Comfort, comfort my people,

says your God.

2     Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and proclaim to her

that her hard service has been completed,

that her sin has been paid for,

that she has received from the Lord’s hand

double for all her sins.

3     A voice of one calling:

“In the desert prepare

the way for the Lord;

make straight in the wilderness

a highway for our God. (more…)

Confirmation that Doesn’t Work

Doesn't it just look so... formal?

I have the privilege of taking several sixth through eighth graders the basics of the Christian faith. We call this process confirmation or catechism class. It’s a blast; nearly every one of them chooses to be there. Their parents did not force them to come; in fact, only one has even one parent who’s a member of any church. These kids have met Jesus. The Holy Spirit created faith in their hearts. Now, they want to know more about Jesus!

And here comes the problem. I want to teach them. There’s a formalized curriculum for such teaching within our church body. I started with that. And… it’s failing. (more…)

Make it personal.

Luke 1:5-22

 

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

(more…)