Friday, December 28, 2012

More Than A Brochure

Sitting here in the middle of the night considering how to help lead Crossroads into the new year. We put together a brochure based on our Jeremiah 6:16 theme verse but I know brochures (and any kind of writing) just don't make the kind of difference that God is calling us to make.  It's got to be preached and lived out, so that's what I'm getting ready to do.  (If you're interested in seeing more of the brochure, click here.)

I'm planning on using two examples of what it means to "Stand at the crossroads, look, ask and walk."  The first, from the Bible, is the story of King Josiah. The history of Josiah's people leading up to the beginning of his reign was a true nightmare!  The people of God had turned against the Lord in almost every way imaginable, and they were about to be destroyed because of their sin.

At some point during King Josiah's reign, one of the faithful religious leaders finds "a book" that just happens to be the book of the law of Moses.  I haven't yet investigated how it is that the book was lost, but what's important is what Josiah and his people did when the book was found!  First Chronicles 34-35 says that the book's recovery resulted in blessed obedience!  The people turned from their sinful ways and began following the Lord.

The second example I'm hoping also to use is from our Crossroads church family.  Just how I will share this is yet to be determined, but there is a sweet process of (1) coming to a "crossroad" of life and stopping there to (2) look, (3) ask and (4) act differently that is coming to pass in someone's life these days.  It's so exciting to see someone set free!  It's a long process and people need support and honest companionship as they go through it, but I believe Crossroads Community Church came into being for that purpose.

Lots still to work on as I prepare this message, but, at the moment, I need sleep!  Good night!

Monday, December 24, 2012


When I woke just before 5 this morning, I looked out and saw the beautiful a beautiful snowfall by the light of the street lamp.  I love the quiet of early morning and the slowly drifting snow was a real gift.  Our Father God has designed this world with a glory that shines today.  Thank you God!


I'm particularly thankful for this sign of God's wonderful design because I know that all is not really calm and bright right now in this world.  I'm thankful for this snowfall in the way that the soldiers were thankful during "Christmas truce" of 1914, "a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of modern history." 

You who are reading this blog post may not feel as if you are in a difficult or dangerous place, but the fact is that this world (and each of us) is indeed in the midst of a war.  We've seen this war come to the surface recently in Newtown, Connecticut, where so many were killed in what seems to have been the act of a young man who had been profoundly troubled, probably for most of his life.

You may not be experiencing physical warfare or violence today, but the Bible teaches us that you and I are in the midst of a war that goes on constantly.  Still, we can praise God for simple joys like snowfalls and quiet mornings, which God gives to us as a sign of his constant care and the final victory that will be ours because of what he has done in Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate now.

More about this in the message the Lord is preparing me to preach this afternoon.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

140 Characters

On this blog page you'll find a place where my "twitter" feed is located.  These days it seems there is little focused time for writing, so I'm mostly sharing what I'm up to, and the Lord says to me, in 140 characters (letters & spaces etc.), the maximum I'm allowed in that medium.  Whether this is a good development or not, that's the reality for now.

At the moment, I'm moving on to other things, like cleaning, my small part in getting the house ready for people coming here for Christmas Eve... and Jon's birthday tomorrow!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thankful for All These Years

The days fly past. I'm so much looking forward to taking time to write, or, at least, some "leisure" with enough spiritual energy for preaching preparation.  Perhaps today, after my morning school bus route, and after I help someone out with getting food from the food shelf... perhaps today will be the day I can do that.

These days of getting up so early and then of having time chopped up by my afternoon school bus route have taught me how well "kept" I have been in my life as a pastor.  For a long time I served as a denominational pastor with benefits and a salary determined by "guidelines" that were always enough for me and my family.  I didn't need to think about having a second job during all those years, and it wasn't necessary for Toni to be employed more than part time.  How privileged I have been!

It has been God, our Abba, who has cared for us all these years.  My Father God took care of me well, so I could help Toni raise our children.  Glory be to God for that.  Such a privilege!  Thank you Jesus!

It occurs to me this morning that as of next month I will have been in church service, more or less, for about 30 years.  I wasn't officially "ordained" until 1986, but very early January of 1983, I entered that service as an intern of the former American Lutheran Church serving in Brazil.  I just received a "stipend" for living expenses during those years... but still, I haven't had to be concerned about finances in a deep way even one time during all those years.  How blessed I have been.

We have always had enough!  At the beginning, 30 years ago as an international intern, I received very little by the standards of my country.  But it was always more than enough.  I even asked the church to cut my stipend at a certain time because I knew I had so much more than those I was living with there in Brazil.  Then, after a couple more years of seminary, being well "kept" by Toni who worked full time way back then for a "para-church" group (Lutheran Youth Encounter), I and we moved on to full time pastoral service.

It's always been enough!  Imagine that!  Thirty years of sustenance the Lord has provided!  And, of course, before that... my parents watching over me and making sure I was taken care of so well.  And the health and strength God gave me so I could work and "provide for myself" until I finally did end up in a lasting career.  How wonderful!  And now, with the combination of church service through Crossroads and this bus driving job, and Toni's various positions, we're okay!

Keep me in your grace and peace, Father.  Let me continue to serve you as long as I live. Thank you, Jesus, for keeping me and my family safe and well in your service.  Thank you Lord!

(And now I have taken time to write and so I need to run!  God has always blessed me in this way and I'm thankful for that too.  I just will need to skip my morning prayer time with my North Heights friends this morning at 6:30... I'll need to be inspecting my school bus then today!)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Encouraging Friendship

God has blessed us with one another! As I have been awake for a bit in the middle of this night, I am praising God for friends who have encouraged me to find my strength in the Lord.  The Lord gave me this verse: "Jonathan went to David and helped him find strength in God." (1st Samuel 23:16)

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible says this:
David, though a strong believer, needed the help of his friends for the perfecting of what was lacking in his faith; and herein Jonathan was helpful to him, by reminding him of the promise of God, the holy oil wherewith he was anointed, the presence of God with him hitherto, and the many experiences he had had of God’s goodness to him. Thus he strengthened his hands for action, by encouraging his heart, not in the creature, but in God. Jonathan was not in a capacity of doing any thing to strengthen him, but he assured him God would.
Even when we cannot do anything personally for our friends, we still can help them find their strength by directing them toward God.

Father God, help us be wise in encouraging one another to find our strength in you and in your word.  Send your Holy Spirit among us to help us in this way.  In Jesus' name.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Source

I hope to say more about this tomorrow in worship, and perhaps later today here on this blog, but if you look at Psalm 46 you'll see a reference to a "river whose streams make the city of God glad."  This photo is of a child standing in the water of one of those "streams," a stream flowing through a tunnel has carried water to the populated places of Jerusalem from the Gihon Spring for thousands of years. The spring is the "river," the source of life giving water that allowed this "City of God" to grow up in this otherwise very dry part of the world.

What is the source of your life?  Where is your stream?  Will you take time to be refreshed?

Jesus said: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)