pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Into the Presence

Reading: Matthew 17: 1-9

Verse 2: “There he was transfigured… his face shown like the sun… his clothes became as white as light”.

Tomorrow is known in many denominations and churches as “Transfiguration Sunday”. The three disciples closest to Jesus are selected to go up the mountain with him. Peter, James, and John enter into the mystery of God atop the mountain. “There he was transfigured… his face shown like the sun… his clothes became as white as light”. In many ways these three men experience something totally unique and absolutely foreign to them. And yet they are drawn in. There is something powerful about the mystery of God.

Peter’s first reaction is to preserve the moment. He knows it is “good” for them to be there and he offers to build three shelters. Maybe his mind is not making sense of what he sees and he wants time to be in the moment and to wrap his head around it. Maybe he is connecting to the presence of these two Old Testament icons and that is what he wants to hold onto. Like many of us do with Jesus, perhaps Peter has some questions to ask Moses and Elijah. Whatever the cause for wanting to preserve it, Peter is a good example for us.

Peter first recognizes the sacredness of the moment. He is present to something wrapped in mystery and power and he sees that in the moment. He recognizes God in that space. Second, Peter does not shy away. Instead of being fearful or being paralyzed by the mystery, he invites its continued presence. Our first reaction may be to turn and hide or even to run. Being that close to the holiness of God may be challenging to us. It was a life-changing moment for Peter. That has been revealed in our reading and considerations on 2nd Peter 1 these past days.

When we find ourselves in God’s presence, within the mystery, do we seek to make it last? Do we step into that sacred space and allow the whole point of today’s passage to be what consumes us? Do we stop and become fully present to the presence of God? Do we listen to him?

Prayer: God, when you are present to me in those blessed moments, may I be like Peter. May I humbly step into that sacred place, inviting what you have for me to become my reality. May it ever be so. Amen.


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Transform

Reading: Mark 9: 2-9

Verse Seven: “A voice from the cloud: ‘This is my son, whom I love. Listen to Him!'”

Today is known as Transfiguration Sunday. It is the day when Peter, James, and John get a glimpse into what the heavenly Jesus may look like. To be present in his moment is a powerful and life-changing moment for the inner three. In its own way it was unique and special. But it is just one of many such moments that forever changed Peter, James, and John.

We too will have these mountaintop, transforming moments. We will also have our share of life-changing moments in the valley. Those moments on the mountaintop are things such as the birth of a child or the day we accepted Jesus. Our valley moments are the times we lost someone or something dear to us or the day life radically changed. Each of these unique and special moments also work within us to transform us, to make us more and more like Christ.

In the transfiguration, Jesus is elevated to a better and more perfect version of His earthly self. As we experience our own God moments, we too can be transfigured. Through our unique and special moments with God – whether on the mountaintop or in the valley – we can be changed and shaped more into the image of who God created us to be. I say ‘can be’ because we do have a choice. In those valley moments we can choose to continue to cling to God and to walk through it with God. During those mountaintop moments we can give God all the glory and honor, bringing Him praise. Both are choices. One choice is God’s path and that choice elevates our faith journey and brings us closer to Jesus Christ.

In our faith journeys and in life may we always choose to walk with Jesus. We were created in God’s image, chosen since we were woven together in the womb, marked as a child of God in the waters of baptism. May we ever choose to live into our identity in Christ, allowing each God moment to transform us one experience at a time, bringing us ever closer to our Lord and Savior. Amen.


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Mountain Top

Reading: Exodus 24: 12-14

God and mountains seem to go together.  It was on the mountain that Moses first heard God’s call and it was on another mountain that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.  It was on the mountain that God passed by Elijah and whispered in that still, small voice. It was on the mountain that Jesus rejected Satan’s temptation and it was later on another mountain that Jesus was transfigured.  It is later that Jesus pleads with His Father on the Mount of Olives.

Many believers have also had their own ‘mountaintop’ experiences.  Some have happened while physically on a mountain.  Bishop Hartwell climbed the mountain in Zimbabwe to seek God’s direction.  On the mountaintop, God gave him a vision that led to the founding of Africa University.  For others, their mountaintop experience is not literally on a mountain, but it feels as if they were on top of the world.  In that place, one experiences God in a way that is amazing and life-changing.  For many, it is the pinnacle or touchstone moment of their faith.

To be on the mountaintop is often to be alone with God.  To physically stand atop Mount Everest or Mount McKinley or Storm Mountain feels as if you were next to God.  There is something about the isolation, something about the height above all else, something about the beauty seen all around you.  In the ruggedness it can feel as if God himself has walked there.  Then when one looks down, the world lays out before you.  This too is a moving experience.  To see all of God’s handiwork laid out in its beauty and splendor creates a feeling of closeness to the Creator.

Our lives themselves can also have mountaintop experiences, and not just the one the first time we met God.  God calls us over and over and over to the mountaintop.  God wants us to experience His power and majesty and wonder over and over again.  Our question is: will we respond to God’s call?  Furthermore, will we obediently go where God leads, will we allow God to be fully in control of our lives?  When our answers to these questions are ‘yes’, then God will bring us to the mountaintop over and over, again and again.  In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.  Do we desire life to the full?  If so, may we trust in God and allow Him to take us to the mountain today.


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Walk Where He Leads

In her deep distress and anguish, Hannah prays.  She cries out to God with groans and sighs and the silent moving of her lips.  I can picture her maybe shifting from foot to foot; perhaps her head is bobbing in a steady rhythm as she prays.  Hannah is so lost in her prayer that Eli, the priest, assumes she is drunk.

One can also get lost in God because you are so in love with Him.  King David, filled with the Spirit, danced and sang before the Lord.  Almost as if to some of the horrified onlookers, David said he would become even more undignified than this.  In a huff of embarrassment or disgust, some stormed away.

Although the content of their prayers are on the opposite end of the spectrum, Hannah and David have much in common.  First and foremost is their absolute passion for God and their relationship with Him.  Second, they pour out their hearts in reckless abandon – they do not care one bit what others think – it is just them and God.

On occasion one enters into this space.  Maybe it is during a hymn or song and suddenly tears arr streaming down the cheeks and the heart is filled with the presence of God.  Maybe it is when one steps out for God and offers an act of compassion or mercy for another.  Afterwards, one looks back and thinks, ‘I can’t believe I did that.’

This day may we each encounter God in a special, life-changing way.  Allow God to lead.  Walk where He leads.

Scripture reference: 1 Samuel 1: 9-20