pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

God Reality

Reading: Genesis 18:9-15 & 21:1-7

Verses 18:14 and 21:7 – Is anything too hard for the Lord?…. Yet I have born him a son in his old age.

Most of us live a very patterned life.  Sunday morning we go to church.  Wednesday night is youth group or a Bible study.  Monday through Friday morning we go to work.  Third Friday of the month is date night.  Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring.  Even within all of our routines are routines.  Worship is in the same order every Sunday.  First thing each morning is prayer time with a cup of coffee on the couch in the living room.

Within all of this we are called to live by faith.  But here too we like patterned or at least predictable.  Sure, we love for God to show up big on Sunday mornings in worship and we hope for His presence in our small group this Wednesday night.  We may even pray “your will be done” but hope it fits within our boxes.  We’d rather not have God show up unexpectedly as a coworker unburdens themselves at lunch.  We’d rather not have the Holy Spirit lead us to engage and love on that person we really don’t like so much.  All in all, even in our faith we prefer to stay well within our comfort zones.

Now we enter Abraham and Sarah’s story.  They are very old.  Her barrenness has caused much hurt and pain.  Years and years ago God promised Abraham descendant as numerous as the stars in the sky.  But it never came to be.  Now, as they near 100 years old, God again appears and says now is the time!  Sarah laughs.  You can’t blame her.  Her laugh is partly an expression of her deep sadness and her unrealized dream of a child.  It is also part honesty – really, a baby at 100?  Funny God, very funny.

God responds with a question: “Is anything too hard for the Lord”?  We all know the answer.  Nothing is impossible with God.  We know this to be true.  Yet most of the time we still prefer God in our boxes.  As Sarah becomes pregnant and begins to live into the reality of God, her mindset shifts.  She is experiencing the almost impossible through God’s power.  She is well outside her box.  You can picture her musing out loud as she asks the “who woulda thought” question.  Our passage closes with the reality, God’s reality: “Yet I have born him a son in his old age”.  Sarah fully understands now that nothing is impossible with God.  She knows this God reality.  May we live it each day as well.


1 Comment

Positive Results

Reading: Luke 18: 1-8

When we learn to stick to something, we find we get better at it.  A player who shoots free throw after free throw improves their percentage.  An aspiring writer who writes and rewrites and edits and rewrites again becomes a better writer.  A chef who nuances a dish over and over and over eventually comes to the exact balance of flavors desired for the dish.  If we are willing to invest our time and energy in a concentrated and focused manner, we will see positive results.

The widow in our story is willing to stick up for herself.  She is willing to go against social norms.  Above all else is a sense of being wronged and her driving need for justice.  As the widow went to the unjust judge day after day, I imagine she tried a variety of approaches.  I cannot imagine her showing up day after day issuing the same request.  She worked a variety of angles and applied a variety of reasons to show that she deserved justice from the judge.

Our prayer life is something like these two scenarios.  We latch onto something we desire from God and we begin to pray for it.  Early on we are like the player or writer or chef, seeking to craft just the prayer that will draw the response we desire.  As our prayer is offered up day after day we refine and shape it.  Eventually we fall into the widow’s pattern as we apply various reasons why God should answer our prayer.  Sometimes we even get to the “if, then” praying.  If you will ___ God, then I will ___.  

Through our begging, our pleading, our bartering, God is at work.  If we remain persistent in our prayers, we will often find that it is us or our faith that changes.  For example, in praying for “that” person or situation, our approach or view or understanding is often changed so we become more loving, more compassionate, more accepting.  If we are willing to invest time and energy in our prayers, we will experience God at work in our lives.  The results will be positive.  We may not always receive the answer we began praying for, but God will always be present, always working, always shaping us through our prayers to be the Christian we need to be.


Leave a comment

In Prayer

When we go to God in prayer, we do so with no guarantees.  We bring to God the desires of our hearts and our hopes for friends, family, and the world.  Often we pray for a certain situation or for some conflict to be resolved.  But sometimes, when we are in a season of personal discontent, we do not know what to pray for.  We sense some imbalance or uneasiness in our lives, but we cannot quite put our finger on it.  So we pray for things like guidance, direction, wisdom, discernment.

Usually when we pray, we pray with a certain hoped for answer in mind.  We pray for someone who is sick and we hope for healing.  We pray for someone who needs work and we hope for a job.  We pray for someone who is in a struggling relationship and we hope for reconciliation.  Even when we are in a season of discontent, most of the time when we pray we do so with an idea of what we would like the answer to be.

Funny thing about prayer though – it is God who answers our prayer, not us.  His  vision for our life and our world is so much bigger than our limited view.  His vision and plan for us and our world is focused on an eternal ending.  We often struggle to see with this lens.  But sometimes we do see an answer to a prayer or we begin to understand how God is at work in the midst of it all.  This is a holy privilege.

At times our prayers are also affirming and uplifting.  Like God’s response to Jesus’ prayer after His baptism in today’s passage, at times we too sense God’s presence, love, and affirmation.  We can almost hear Him saying ‘well done’.  We sense a guiding hand or we are blessed with affirmations that encourage us to continue to walk the path that God has placed us on.  In prayer we connect to God and He connects to us.  May we pray often.

Scripture reference: Luke 3: 21-22


Leave a comment

Answering the Question

Most of us do not have a vision experience like Isaiah – winged creatures, smoke filling the room, trembles that shake the foundations.  For most of us, our encounters with God tend to be on the quieter side.  We do not hear an audible voice asking the question: “Whom shall I send?”  But we do often hear the question.

For many of us though, we are adept at acting like we do not hear the question.  Like a phone ringing that we choose not to answer or a text message that we choose to ignore, it can be easy to avoid responding to the question.  We certainly could not avoid the question if our call experience was like Isaiah’s.  And for some, God’s call approaches this scale.  But for most it does not.

God continues to actively call each of us.  It could be through something we see on TV or read in the paper or observe out in the world.  It could be through the words of another who encourage us or ask us to join them.  It could be through an encounter with someone that somehow strikes a passion within us.  God speaks to us in many ways.  He calls for us to minister to His people over and  over and over.

The voice never goes away.  He never ceases to ask the question.  The call never ends.  But the more we hear it, the more we have the opportunity to tune in and to hear God.  Funny thing though, saying ‘yes’ does not make the call go away.  It makes the next call clearer.  It helps us say ‘yes’ quicker next time.  When God asks “Whom shall I send?”, the answer is clear.  In each case, God already knows the answer to the question.  May we respond with the answer He longs for: “Here I am.  Send me.”  For where He leads we are to go.  And where we go, He will be there too.

Scripture reference: Isaiah 6: 1-8