pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Truly Blessed

Reading: Psalm 14

The psalmist paints a grim image of society.  It speaks of fools who say there is no God and of people who are corrupt.  The writer says all have turned away from God.  We hear of evildoers frustrating the poor and of the masses being overwhelmed with dread.  It is bleak indeed.

As I read this Psalm, I was reminded of the doom and gloom prophets of our day.  One does not have to wait too long into a conversation about politics or the economy to hear something along the lines of: “our country is going to heck in a hand basket”.  If the conversation turns to young adults or teenagers, there is similar doom and gloom spoken.  In both cases, it makes me pause.  I think one of two things: “Do you live in the same place I live?” or, “Boy do you need to spend some time at Youth group” in response to the bleak thoughts.

Yes indeed, it can be all too easy to become self-focused and to lose site of God.  Yes indeed, it can be easy to fall into temptation and sin.  Yes indeed, it can be easy to allow busyness to steal our attention and to then ignore the marginalized of our society.  But our God is greater than all of this and will overcome any sin, apathy, or misstep on our part.

For most of us, life us truly blessed.  We live a life of comfort, of peace, of belonging, of freedom.  Our faith calls us to help all people live this life.  It is a life founded and centered in a relationship with God.  As we live in this place, connected to God, we are led to be other-centered, righteous, and compassionate.  There is much good in the world.  May we bring a little more of it with us today.


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Speaking, Shining

Reading: Philemon 1-21

In this short letter Paul is practicing what Jesus taught.  Paul is standing up for one of the least.  Paul is reaching out to Philemon, a good friend and fellow Christian, and asking him to receive Onesimus back not as a slave but as a fellow brother in Christ.  To help Philemon’s decision Paul offers to pay for whatever is has cost Philemon while Onesimus has been ‘away’.  Paul is truly living out his faith in no only speaking up for a slave but also by being willing to give sacrificially for him as well.

While we do not live in a time when there are actual slaves, we do have plenty of people who are marginalized and who are trapped by their situation or conditions.  We do live in a culture that excludes and leaves some on the outside looking in.  We do live in an economy where many are used and exploited.  So, no, we do not have slaves, but there are many without voice or power.  As Christians, we are called to “loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke”.  Isaiah 58 goes on to call us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the wanderer.

Paul was able to speak for Onesimus because he knew him.  In our daily lives our paths do not regularly cross the paths of the marginalized, the hungry, the naked.  To speak and act for them we must go to where they are and seek to know them.  It is our call to love and care for the least and the lost.  Isaiah 58 reads, “then your light will break forth like the dawn, … your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard”.  This day may we seek places and ways for our light to break forth, bringing God’s glory and live to all people.


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God’s Economy

Reading: 1 Kings 21: 1-21a

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  The wealthy strive to attain more and more while the marginalized cling to what little they have.  The powerful use the system to add to their position and possessions; the downtrodden feel trapped and isolated.  This is part of the world’s economy.

The last shall be first.  When you do this for one of the least of these…  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love one another as I first loved you.  Do not go over your field a second time and do not harvest all the way to the edges.  These things are part of God’s economy.

In Elijah’s time the precedent was set for the king to care for and protect the people.  The king’s role had been established in the desert when God gave t he covenant.  The king was to be the champion of the oppressed, the poor, the widow.  But King Ahab strayed far from this idea of benevolent king.  Queen Jezebel, who was not an Israelite, certainly helped this departure from God’s covenant.

Today many stray from the commands of God.  Today many, like Ahab and Jezebel, seek to place themselves and their desires far above God’s.  The forces that drive the world’s economy are powerful.  The pull on individuals to be successful in the world’s eyes is strong.  Injustice and oppression often occur as the costs of the world’s economy.

God stand opposed to these things and calls on His children to do the same.  We are called to be servants to one another and to share His blessings with those in need.  God desires for our hearts to grow to become His heart, loving and caring for those with less.  May we bring God into the world, being a people who give freely and love deeply.  May we lay aside self and seek to care for the needs of all of His children.


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His Kingdom

The first must be last.  To be first you must become a servant.  These words of Jesus run so counter to the view of the world.  In the world, power is seen as the one on top with the most money or the loftiest title or the best looks.  Jesus says that when we welcome those at the bottom of society and get to know them, then we also come to know Him better.  In the world’s view, those beneath are just stepping stones.

For Jesus, welcoming in and getting to know those who are struggling breaks down the barriers that often separate us.  In forming relationships we remove our misconceptions.  In loving other we help them to see their worth and identity as a child of God.  But it is not all one-sided.  In doing these things, our love for God and our love for neighbor grows as well.  We too are changed.

It is in these moments and through these experiences with the discounted, marginalized, and invisible that we ourselves come to catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom.  It is here we begin to see and know what Jesus meant when He said the first must be last.  In this kingdom we place other’s needs ahead of our own.  It is here that we see being a servant to those in need as a blessing to us as well as to them.  In this kingdom we learn that all are servants.

This life-transforming love of God is powerful.  It can forever change lives.  This day, this week, this life – may we be moved to be builders of His kingdom.  May we bring His light and love to all who are lost and in need.  May we be forever changed.

Scripture reference: Mark 9: 33-37