Month: August 2013

What shirt do you wear?

Galatians 5:2-6

2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

This week we studied these words in Bible study. And as I explained part of this to the class, an illustration came to mind:

Imagine you’re going out on a date. Your date is awesome. Perfect. But he tells you: “I’ll only go out with you if you wear this one shade of blue. That’s the kind of shirts I love.”

Well, wanting to have a good date, you find that shade of blue. Except… it’s a shade off. And your date clearly sticks his nose up at you. Do you want to go out with this guy again?

That’s what having a relationship with God based on the law is. If you want to follow rules, you can follow rules. But it’s going to ruin your relationship. You’ll be “alienated from Christ.” And that goes with any kind of law-keeping, from “Thou shalt obey!!!” to “I’m just a nice guy.” Ultimately, it will alienate you from Christ.

But now imagine that you go out with a guy, and have a great time. You clearly are meant for each other. He treats you well. And then he lets you know, “I think you’d look really pretty in blue.”

Well, you want to make this guy happy, right? And he’s not forcing anything on you. What are the chances you wear blue next time you get together? A lot higher?

That’s what a relationship based on the gospel is. We long to please God, because he’s kept all his promises to us. Our relationship isn’t based on trying to please him. He did everything for us. How could we not rejoice in him? How could we not desire to please him — not because it gets him to do anything, but because he’s already that good to us?

– – –

I enjoyed the illustration, and it seemed to help the class understand our relationship to the law a little better.

And then we got to verse twelve, and I was amazed at how many people didn’t know what the word “emasculation” means…

I Know Why She Swallowed That Fly

…but don’t tell her she swallowed it.

So, Communion! At my congregation, we celebrate it using both individual cups and a chalice, a large silver “communal” cup. The little individual cups are offered first, and if someone wants one, they take it. If someone prefers the common cup, I pass by second and give them a sip. I prefer the chalice myself, as it reminds me that we all drink from the same source (Christ) and also, because the pastor lifts it to my lips, I receive without even raising a hand to help myself.

Last summer, we had some issues with bugs. Gnats and fruitflies would be attracted to the sweet wine we’d use. The little individual cups have a cover; no bugs got in there. However, the larger chalice had no such cover… and we ended up with bugs in the wine. It wasn’t very appealing. Now, the alcohol content of the wine prevents any kind of germs, so no one was going to get sick, but it’s still… well, it’s at the least distracting, and can be taken to be very disrespectful of the sacrament.

We problem-solved; one of the ladies brought a nice doily that sufficiently covered the cup’s mouth. No more problems.

Until today. (more…)

I wasn’t made for the ministry.

I wasn’t made for the ministry.

That’s the conclusion I had today. My wife termed it a “fire day.” I have office days, visiting days, and now I have fire days. Days where everything catches on fire, and I need to put them all out.

It’s so stupid. A member doesn’t want to listen to what God’s Word says, so she simply tells me that I’m “just another person silly.” Discredit the messenger, discredit the message. Oldest trick in the book. And her life is a mess. I’ve wept for her and with her. She should know the love I have for her, that I want what’s best for her.

And now I feel betrayed. And it’s stupid. It’s not me she’s spurning. It’s Jesus.

That’s supposed to make me feel better. It doesn’t. Now, instead of rejecting some schmuck, she’s rejecting what her Savior says. And I weep for her more.  (more…)