fear

To Wear the Faces of the Dead

Roy's Funeral

His mother died.

He’s not a member yet, but he’s been taking membership classes. He’s a young but eager Christian. I’m supposed to officiate at his wedding, and would have, except… he got caught violating parole. I believe him when he says he didn’t realize he was doing it. I withhold judgment on whether or not he should have known what he was doing was violating.

He’s been held in jail, and his courtdate is set. And then… last night, his mother died.

I know this man. I know his heart. This will rip him apart. It’s going to break him that this happened while he was on the inside. That he can’t be with his family. That he can’t mourn with them, but is stuck in a cell.

I got the news last night not long before bed. I started planning what I had to do to see him today.

And then I went to his mom’s funeral. (more…)

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Am I like Jesus?

Hiding… refusing to make eye contact…

Am I like Jesus?

Last week I went to a basketball game in which some of the teens were playing. I had a great time, sitting in the bleachers with the parents and cheering and groaning. And a chunk of the way into the game, something whacks me from above.

I turn and discover a mostly-empty Gatorade bottle. Above, in the balcony, one of the younger teen girls laughing. She thinks it’s funny, but it’s also greatly disrespectful. I motion her. “Come down here,” I say. Blank face. I turn and watch the game, waiting for her to come.

My only goal is for her to come down and apologize. Then, I plan on forgiving her. Done and done.

Doesn’t happen.

Another girl comes up to me. “She’s leaving,” she says, her voice quivering. “She’s scared.” (more…)

Since when does God keep his promises?

Luke 24:36-49 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

(more…)

I’m not an evangelist.

Yep. That's a reaction I've had!

On the road to becoming a pastor, seminary students are given a few assessments. In that amount of time, they usually get a good feel for where their talents lie. And one thing became apparent in both for me: I’m not an evangelist. I don’t have a fire to get out there and share Jesus with others. Frankly, it’s scary!

And yet… God laughs. Yesterday, by God’s grace alone, five adults stood in front of church. I was blessed to confirm them and welcome them into communicant fellowship. God had used me to welcome them to thirteen sessions to look more closely at what the Bible teaches. (Incidentally, I’ve avoided calling it a class or a study, as those words can often have negative connotations.) And… the Word works. That’s all there is to it: The Word works. The Holy Spirit used his Word to turn hearts and convince souls that Jesus died for them. That in baptism they were born again. That in the Holy Supper they will get to taste and see that the Lord is good! (more…)

I might lose everything.

Genesis 6:1-3, 5-14, 17-22

 

6       When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

5 The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

9 This is the account of Noah.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.

17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

 

It’s Christmas! So why aren’t I happy? …I might lose everything.

  1. What are you losing?
  2. What are you gaining?

(more…)

Spectacular Failure

Sunday is September 11th: the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The church is excited. Over half of our normal attendance has been directly involved with preparing for this service or in the actual execution of the service. We’ve had so many people handing out invitations, preparing music in an orchestra, adult choir, and teen choir. We have people who designed the invitations, the bulletin, and the movies and slides for the actual service.

The service itself will be powerful. We’re remembering each event at the ten-year mark to the minute. The music that’s been selected is powerful. The remembrance brought on by the film clips will probably evoke all the emotions of that historic day.

We’ve handed out three thousand invitations. Sure, that may be nothing to a megachurch, but for our little congregation, where an attendance of fifty is a great Sunday, this is nothing short of spectacular. The involvement on our level is incredible. We’ve been very blessed.

Yesterday I made a request of the congregation. I asked that they pray. I asked that they pray for two things: (more…)