pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Your Call

Reading: Jeremiah 1: 4-10

Verse 9: “Then the Lord… touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now I put my words in your mouth'”.

Jeremiah, like many of the prophets, received a call from God to be God’s voice to the people. For some, like Samuel and Elisha and others, the call seemed to be their destiny. It was what they had been born for. Such is the case with Jeremiah too, even though he did not seem to be aware of it. In verse 5 we read, “before I formed you in the womb… before you were born… I set you apart… I appointed you as a prophet”. It was who Jeremiah was created to be. Yet even he had his doubts. He said to God, “I am only a child”. We too have our doubts, our reasons, our rationales that we try and use with God.

During my long call into ministry, this happened often. I said I am only a middle school teacher when the call came asking me to teach a high school Sunday school class. I said I am just a volunteer when the call came asking me to lead the youth group. I said I am only a youth leader when the call came to help lead a congregation. Yet at each step God continued to call me onward. In my own way I kept hearing verse 7: “you must go to everyone I send you and say whatever I command you”. God has been faithful. God has been present. God has gone with me every step of the way.

Jeremiah questioned, I questioned, maybe you question too. Perhaps your call is not to be a prophet or a pastor, perhaps it is. Whatever our vocation, the call is the same – to speak and reveal the truth as we share and live out the Word of God. The promises we hear today are the same no matter our calling. When we are willing to go and to trust in God, we all experience verse 9: “Then the Lord… touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now I put my words in your mouth'”. We might not speak the word of God to a nation or even to a congregation. We might just speak it to one person at a time. The size of the audience does not matter. It matters not because the word of God has the power to save, to redeem, to restore, to heal… each that hears it, whether one or one million. So may we all boldly share the word of God today that God places in our hearts and mouths. May we boldly step out in faith, knowing “I am with you”. We do not go alone. God is with us.

Prayer: God, I trust that you will go with me wherever I go today. May the Holy Spirit lead and guide me, bringing me just the words I need to share you with one in need of you. Amen.


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Freedom

Reading: Psalm 114: 1-2

Verse Two: Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel His dominion.

Growing up in Connecticut, going to the Department of Motor Vehicles was a daunting task.  The adventure began in the parking lot.  It was always a challenge to find a spot to park.  If you went early, so did a thousand other people.  If you went during the day, it seemed like a thousand cars were circling the lot, all looking for the same space.  Once inside you saw a sea of chairs, lined up in long row after long row.  Then you would stand in line to get a number.  You pulled a little ticket like one does at a deli in a busy supermarket and then you headed for a seat.  If you forgot a book or your Walkman, you were in for trouble.  The big red number on the sign would read something like “24” and you’d look down at your ticket – “327”.  After just a few hours it would be your turn and you’d walk towards the correct window praying you had all the right paperwork…  When you finally emerged into fresh air to begin the search for your car, it felt as if a major victory had been won.  You survived the DMV!

The Israelites had been in Egypt for over 400 years.  Life was monotonous.  It was the same thing day after day.  Hurry up and do the same thing again today.  The slave drivers were always pushing and seemed to expect more and more.  Then one day the Israelites’ number is called.  God’s chosen people hear, “Next”!  God redeems them from slavery and they head off towards the promised land.  After their experience at the sea, they breathe in the fresh air and are confident in the victory that God has brought.  They know without a doubt that God is with them.  “Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel His dominion”.  God says, ‘you are mine and I love you’.  The chosen people head off, freedom at hand, the future looking oh so bright.

Fast forward a few centuries and we too have joined the family.  God says to you and to me, ‘you are mine, I love you’.  We too claim the victory.  Thanks be to God.


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Enough?

Reading: Luke 10: 25-28

In our culture there is a large emphasis placed upon ‘success’.  This emphasis leads us to judge others and to compare ourselves and our status or position to others.  We begin doing this the first time someone compares us to someone else.  It may be a bike race, the height chart on the wall, or any other form of evaluation.  Not to say competition or success are bad things, but early on we are taught to compare ourselves to others.  And naturally, we want to be the best.

Of course there can only be a small handful of ‘best’ people.  There is only one at the top of each list.  And for almost all of us, none are at the top of any of these lists.  In turn our success becomes relative.  We work hard for the next promotion, the bigger house, the nicest yard, the next gadget.  Life too easily can become all about our stuff and how it compares to those in our little worlds.  But all of this is temporary and in the end bring no satisfaction because there is always a ‘next’ thing to buy or to accomplish to keep ahead.

By contrast our faith leads us to consider other before self and to find our contentment in our relationship with our Creator.  Once we understand and know God’s great love for us, we are led to share this love with others.  It is a great gift that compels us to share it with all we meet.  We treasure this gift of live above all else and we want others to experience it as well 

But sometimes the drive for success and the call to love God and neighbor collide.  We ask the question the lawyer asked: am I doing enough?  The harsh reality is that when we ask that question, the answer is almost always ‘no’.  When loving God and neighbor permeate our life, we seldom look within to find ‘success’.  We are simply led to offer all we can to all we can whenever we can.  When we miss an opportunity to do so, we note it and commit to not missing the opportunity the next time.  It is not a competition but a life of service to God and neighbor.  May we live our faith in such a way that we never have to ask that question.  May love always be our guide.