pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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God’s Call

Reading: Jeremiah 1: 4-10

Verse 5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”.

Today we hear God’s call on a young Jeremiah. It is a call to be a prophet to the people of God. Jeremiah is living in a time right before and into when Jerusalem falls and the people are carried off into exile. The people’s unfaithfulness leads to being conquered and taken into exile. It is into this situation that God calls Jeremiah. The call begins with these words: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”. In these words we clearly hear that God has long had a plan for Jeremiah. Even before his body began to form in the womb, God knew him and had identified him as a prophet. That is a powerful call.

Jeremiah immediately tries to avoid the call. How like Jeremiah we all are! Jeremiah tries to put up two barriers to serving. He does not know how to speak and he is just a child. We too can quickly come up with reasons. We tend to do this much more quickly than we say ‘yes Lord’. Whether the call is a momentary call, like helping out a neighbor one afternoon, or if it is a call to full-time ministry, we too can find lots of reasons to not answer the call. Many times I have not stopped to help or engage someone the Spirit is prompting me to serve. I’m too busy, there is something more pressing… The reasons come so easy. Often I have chosen not to give when I could have or to volunteer when when I had both the time and the ability.

When I began to feel the call to leave teaching to become a pastor, the decision was hard to make. It required trust in God and it took a step of faith. God kept working on me, gradually leading me to take the step. After we made the decision, my wife and I told our three children. The oldest, then in college, simply said, “It’s about time”. It was one more reminder that, like Jeremiah, God knew me and had appointed me to serve his church.

Each of us hears God’s call upon our lives over and over. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ invites each of us into ministry with him. Whether as a pastor or school teacher or business person or coach or retired person or… God calls us all and leads us all into service. In whatever way God has created and equipped us, we are all called to follow Jesus’ commission to “go and make disciples of all people”. May we each answer the call today.

Prayer: God, thank you for where you have called me. The road is not always easy, the task is often challenging. Yet thank you for where you have planted me. I know you walk with me. Help me each day to be faithful in the small things that build up your kingdom here. Lead and guide me. Amen.


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Welcoming God

Reading: Acts 11: 11-18

Peter at first was hesitant to see how God’s love and grace could extend outside the Israelites.  Centuries of being “God’s chosen people” and many laws and practices that kept the Israelites separate from all other people were all that Peter knew.  History had shown that times of intermarriage and forming alliances always Drew the Israelites away from God.

Yet when he felt led by the Holy Spirit, Peter listened to something new.  He chose to follow where he felt God was leading him.  Peter’s powerful experience at Pentecost had changed him.  Through the subsequent indwelling of the Spirit, Peter was being transformed from the inside out.  The old was being removed as God was at work within Peter to help him more fully understand the vast scope and reach of God’s love.

Change was hard for Peter.  It went against what he knew and was comfortable with.  Each of us do not like change either.  But often change is for the good.  In the end, Peter comes to see that God loves all people, not just the Israelites.  He set aside what he knew to welcome in what God knew.

Today in church we will ask people to do just this.  Two services that sing hymns will be asked to sing praise songs.  Three services that rarely see dramas will be asked to wrestle with a skit that challenges with a difficult message.  People that are used to adults preaching will be asked to hear the Word proclaimed by two high school Seniors.  It will be something new, something different.  But moved by God’s presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will worship together and will each meet God in a powerful way.  For this I say, thanks be to God!