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Showing posts from August, 2017

Acts 2:14-21 - Questions for Reflection & Growth

We took a deeper look at the story of Pentecost this week, including the start of Peter's sermon to the crowds gathered before him - both those filled with the Spirit and the critical/closed-minded.

Pastor Wes started by talking about two specific persons in his own life that radiated the joy of the Gospel and lived life "in the Spirit."  We know these kinds of individuals because they tend to fill us with peace, joy, hope and love.  Since their own lives are over-flowing with a deep awareness of God's love for them and the world around them, they are able to communicate and pass on that love to others.

Take a moment to think about someone who has been this to you in your own life.  What was his or her name?  How would you describe their personality?  What impact did he or she have on your life?  And what do you feel helped them be the sort of person they were?
The gift of the Spirit is the most important part of our life in Jesus Christ.  We can do nothing on our ow…

The Fear of the Lord: Lessons from the Solar Eclipse

Sunday afternoon is always when I forget things.  It's inevitable.  The weekly practice of both ingesting and pouring out a "word from the Lord" to the people takes most of my mental energy.  What's left over goes towards being a pastor to the people - listening to my congregation's concerns and weekly highlights.  By the time I'm done shaking hands and passing stories, it's all I can do to remember where I put my keys to the car.  So it is I stumble into my office around 12:30 pm.  After I find those keys, I usually am aware enough to grab my wallet and my phone before slipping a few books and my weekly planner into my backpack.  Invariably, though, something is left behind.

All of that is just to explain why I was standing outside of my house on Monday shortly after 2:00 pm seeking to invent some strategy to watch the solar eclipse.  Back on my desk at the church were my specially designed "eclipse glasses," leaving me exposed to the one dang…

Acts 1:15-26 - Questions for Reflection & Prayer

"Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit ... Now the works of the flesh are obvious:  ... jealousy, anger, quarrels, ... By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." - Galatians, chapter 5

This week we looked at the early Church's decision to replace Judas with another disciple/apostle.  The language used to describe Judas' death and character is very severe and negative.

On the other hand, what little we know about the two men nominated to replace Judas is very positive.  Joseph Barsabbas was regarded for his great faith.  His Hebrew name Barsabbas means "son of Sabbath," perhaps because his life demonstrated the qualities of living close to God:  humility, peace, gentleness, and a simple, kind manner.  In other words, the fruits of the Spirit.

The other man, the one who is ultimately …

Acts 1:6-11 - Questions for Reflection/Prayer

"Therefore let this principle abide with us, that on the road we ... live as travelers, as pilgrims, as guests of the world ..." - 6th Century Irish mystic, Columbanus

In this week's sermon, we explored a classic way of looking at our Christian life:  a journey back home to dwell with God.  This pilgrimage is embodied in one of Jesus' most famous parables:  the story of the prodigal son.  We begin at home.  We choose an alternative path.  We find life's trials too much and our capabilities too small. Perhaps we have a change of heart.  We realize what we've left.  We desire to return.  The moment we set out for home, we find our "father" running to meet us and embrace us.  We are received.  We are embraced, and riches are poured out upon us in an extravagant manner.

In Acts, chapter 1, we see Jesus completing the journey for us (Heb. 12:2).  He ascends into heaven, thereby opening up the possibility for our own return to the Father.

1.  Where do you…

The Gift of a Sabbatical

or·di·nar·y ˈôrdnˌerē/ adjective 1. with no special or distinctive features; normal.

It happens.  It is bound to happen.  Maybe it's your job.  Or it's your family.  Or it's just your perpective on life.  Things become ordinary.  Normal.  Commonplace.  Customary.  
The ordinariness itself isn't a bad thing.  It's just the sign that you're settling into a way of life, but the danger in the ordinariness is that you begin to miss life's richness.  Over time, you can lose the child-like faith and wonder of living.  Your job becomes just 'a job.'  The same drive you've made for years becomes so customary you swear you could drive it in your sleep.
Or, over time, your spouse or your kids become just an ordinary part of your day and your life.  Maybe you take them for granted.  Maybe you stop seeing the intricate and unique way that God has fashioned them as a splendor beyond telling.  And maybe with so much ordinariness around you, you start to feel bored.
T…