pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Living Like the Light

The prophets have long spoken of God in terms of light.  The Old Testament refers to the coming messiah as one who will bring light into the world.  In the transfiguration story we see Jesus becoming the ultimate light of the world.  The light grows from within Him until his whole form is dazzling and simply full of brightness.  To me it would be like looking into the sun – except that He is right there instead of 93,000,000 miles away.

As we come to know Christ and to grow into our relationship with Him, our daily walk is generally blessed and we are often happy and content.  But there are moments in each day and sometimes days when we seem to struggle with darkness and wrestle with the evils of temptation and sin.  But overall, life is good because ultimately our hope rests in Jesus and His saving grace.  Yet our reality is that evil and darkness do exist in our world.  Life can be difficult.  At times it draws close to us and at other times evil and darkness seem far away.  When we are tempted, evil has drawn near.  We also can find it in people we know and meet.  There are all kinds of dark things that people are struggling with.  For some, all seems dark for they have lost hope.  Yet none are beyond hope.  Nothing is outside of the love of Christ.  No situation is unable to be redeemed.

It is when we find ourselves in darkness or when facing down the evils of sin, that we can call upon the light of the world to chase away the darkness.  Just a quiet ‘help’ and He comes running.  Just a glance toward heaven and the light begins to grow.  The Lamp begins to glow, as a candle spreads light in the dark, and we can again see our way and we can find our hope and peace.  In turn we can also be the light that shines into other people’s lives to dispel that darkness and give light to their path.  We can each be a candle that illuminates.  As we grow in Christ, our light radiates out to bring light and love to a broken and hurting world.


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Today Offer Thanks

The transfiguration story is pretty awesome.  The ‘inner three’ disciples – Peter, James, and John – are brought up the mountan by Jesus.  I bet they were excited for a little ‘alone time’ with Jesus.  They were probably running scenarios through their minds about what might happen as they quietly followed along behind a serious Jesus.  Don’t imagine there was a lot of trail chatter as they made their way up.  When they arrive at their destination, they witness an amazing transfiguration of Jesus.  His face becomes like the sun and his clothes become what they described as brilliantly white or dazzling.  As if this wasn’t enough to blow their minds, suddenly Moses and Elijah appear and start talking with Jesus, in his transfigured state!  Both men long gone from this earth, but there, sure as day!

If I were one of the three I think I would stammer and be afraid too.  It would be hard to take in and process all that has happened right before their eyes.  Part of me would wonder if this was all real.  But it would be so awesome to be there!!  Moses and Elijah just seem to know what to do and why they are they.  They walk up to Jesus just like he is an old friend, and start talking to him.  And, in reality, Moses and Elijah are old friends with Jesus!  Moses and Elijah know what to do and say – they were always faithful followers of what God led them to do.  At times we are like Peter, James, and John and at times we are like Moses and Elijah.  In our faith lives, sometimes we bumble around and other times we just seem to know what to do.

And at times we can also be the one on whom God is looking down upon, smiling as He says we too are His beloved.  A gleam in His eye as He says we too ar His child.  In the quiet moment, when we take the time and energy to focus in on God, we too can hear these words.  We can hear the words, take them in, feel their love, and say, “Thanks Dad, I love you too!”  May we each find that quiet place and enter into His presence this day, so that we can offer Him this thanks.


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Blessed in the Presence

Did you see God yesterday? Were you able to spend a bit of time with Him? Did He bless you because you chose to draw near to Him? What was your means to grace?

When I am privileged to see God’s hand at work in the world, I am awed and amazed. When we seek God and His rule in our life, sometimes we can ‘see’ or sense His presence with us. It is a blessing to see God in the morning sunrise and in the beauty of each snowflake. It is a blessing to see God in the kindness one extends to another or when justice is shared with one in need. It is a blessing to see God in the stories we read in the Bible. All of these things reveal His glory. And for these gifts we praise His holy name!

When we draw near to God, we choose to enter His presence. It may be in a time of prayer, in some moments spent in the Word, in the thoughts we turn toward Him as we walk in His creation. When we choose to spend time with our Lord, He is so happy. In these moments we can know Him more deeply, we can pour out our transgressions into the cup of forgiveness, we can be made anew in Him. As we move through our day Lord, bless us with eyes that are open wide for you and with ears that are attuned to your presence in our world.


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To Wait or not to Wait… That is the Question!

In the story in Exodus 24 there is lots of waiting.  The expression “Hurry up and wait” comes to mind!!  Moses tells the people to wait here, Joshua waits part way up the mountain,  Moses waits for 6 days in the cloud, and then the people wait for 40 more days.  If I were there I’d have been expecting a quick up and back down the mountain trip.  I’m sure Joshua didn’t think he’d be there waiting for almost 7 weeks!  But they waited.  Often times we wait too.

Often times we will pray and then wait for an answer.  And we wait.  Despite our waiting, sometimes we miss the answer.  Maybe it is not the answer we were looking for so we don’t see that God has answered.  Maybe it is an answer we do not want so we fail to see the answer.  But God is faithful and He always answers our prayers.

At other times we are willing to wait.  Sometimes we wait well.  Songs like “Waiting Here For You” speak of the anticipation we have as we await the presence of our Lord.  In our prayer time we can enter into a period of silence and expectantly wait for God.  As we go through Advent we look forward to the coming of the Christ child much like a young child anticipates opening that big box under the Christmas tree.  At times we wait well.

Other times we choose to wait when we shouldn’t.  And in some cases we are patient.  Very patient.  We can see something that needs done, but we are willing to wait for someone else to do it.  We can see it needs done, but…  In other situations we can feel a nudge to do something, but we hold back.  In these cases we must challenge our fears, our lack of faith, our whatever to step into whatever God is calling us to do.  Whether it is someone hungry standing before us or a task that need done at work, at home, or at church, we are being called to be servants.  We are told in scriptures not to wish someone to be well-fed… when we have food… to spare.

May we be willing to wait when seeking the Lord as we grow in or faith.  And may we also be willing not to wait when God has placed before us a situation where He is calling us to take action and live as His hands and feet in our worlds.  In either case, we rest upon the fact that God is faithful.

 

 


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On the Mountaintop

After just a relatively short time in the desert, God calls Moses up the mountain.  The people have seen the pillar and the fire that leads them, and they have been given manna and quail, water from the rock.  The Israelites have already demonstrated a questioning and maybe fickle attitude towards their God and towards this journey that they are on.  Moses heads up the mountain and enters into the cloud that has enveloped the mountain.  On the seventh day God again calls Moses.  He remains on the mountaintop for 40 days and 40 nights.  For Joshua, part way up, and for those down below, it must have seemed like a long time.

I wonder how long it took for the first one in camp to wonder if Moses was coming back.  To enter into God’s presence was terrifying and most thought it would kill a normal person.  I wonder how long it took someone to raise the question of Moses’ return.  I wonder if Joshua pondered entering the cloud to seek out Moses.  I wonder how soon some folks started thinking about moving on.  I wonder how long we might stick around.  But for Moses, did it just seem like a few moments.  Remember being in love and time just seemed to fly by when you were with that person?  Maybe this was how it was for Moses.  Maybe he came down and said, “What??!!  It was HOW long?”

I wonder what the view was like for Moses.  Maybe he didn’t even have time to look around.  Maybe he was so focused on being with God that he did not take a peek at the view.  I’d guess the consuming view was God.  But for us, when we are on a mountaintop or on a high place, our view is usually pretty good.  We can see way off into the distance.  On a clear day we can see for miles and miles.  When we enter into God’s presence and rest in that place, our sight is usually pretty clear.  If we would allow ourselves a deep connection with God and would search out His will for us, I bet our vision would allow us to see for miles and miles.  And I wonder why we don’t do this more often.  I wonder why I don’t do this more often.

My guess is that the fear of entering fully into the presence is what holds us back.  The fear of seeing clearly where God is calling us removes the excuses and requires us to step out boldly in faith.  Being fully in the presence also reveals our faults and what we desire to hold back from our Lord.  Moses entered faithfully and without fear into the cloud on the mountaintop.  As we grow in our faith, may we too learn to step faithfully and fully into the presence of our Lord.  And when we are on the mountaintop, maybe we will really love the view and want to simply rest into the presence of God.  I wonder…


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Son Shine

In Jesus’ call to love both our neighbors AND our enemies, we are challenged. As the Bible points out, God sends the sun and the rain on the just and on the unjust. All are loved by God, none are excluded. We are called to look at the world in the same way. God calls us forward daily on our Christian journey towards perfection. It is a road we are all called to walk. Although the goal of perfection may not be attained here and although we may not even come to see the end of the road, it is the call to always grow in our faith and to strive to be more like Jesus each day.

The call to love our neighbors can be hard when we realize that by neighbors Jesus meant everybody. Not only our family and friends, but the person next door or in the next cubicle/office and even the person who is our ‘enemy’. In this call Jesus wants us to extend ourselves.

On the personal level this challenges us to moe beyond our human hurts and emotions to see all as worthy of God’s love and therefore worthy of our love. This command asks us to look at it from the heart – to love where it is hard to love. To pray for someone who it is hard to pray for.

On the corporate level it calls us as Christians to step beyond the walls of our churches. As the love and holiness of God grows in us, it begins to shine outside of us as we come to love the least, the lost, the lonely, and the unloved. Our faith becomes our actions as we help the Son to shine on all people.


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Step Past the Norm

How often in the past week have you felt wronged or hurt? Was it when someone cut you off in traffic? Was it when someone said something careless that actually hit a nerve in you? Was it when a loved one missed an opportunity that you saw was right there? Was it…? And what is the initial reaction or thought? So often we feel angry or feel that we need to ‘make things right’.

We are raised to stand up for ourselves and to do things on our own, to be independent. But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus calls us to a radical love. He turns the old law of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” upside down. Jesus points out that it is not about revenge (which the old law was limiting) or even about evening the score.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbor. Here Jesus is extending it. He advises that when another strikes our right cheek to then offer the left as well. He advises that when someone asks for your coat to give them your sweater as well. He advises that when someone asks you to walk a mile, to go ahead and walk two miles with them. Jesus is calling us to respond with love – and lots of it!!

This all brings me to the question of why? Why respond to these things with such lavish love? Wouldn’t it simply be enough to not strike back, to just give our coat, to just walk alongside someone for the mile? But isn’t that what the world expects? Most won’t even notice if we as Christians just do what we are supposed to do. It is when we go beyond the minimal and step past what others would do, that people begin to see the love of Christ being lived out in our lives. It is then that they take notice and begin to wonder why as well. It is then that we are living as Christ calls us to live.