Tag Archives: how

The Pillars of Cloud and Fire

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.” They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:17-22, NRSV)

God was always with His people. And Joseph knew God would be with them and would take them from this place.

God led the Israelites in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. So they could always see God and where He was leading them.

How does God lead us today?


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A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people and let them eat.’ But his servant said, ‘How can I set this before a hundred people?’ So he repeated, ‘Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, “They shall eat and have some left.” ’ He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord. (2 Kings 4:42-44, NRSV)

God provides for us even when we do not understand how.

Here God feeds 100 people with 20 barley loaves and fresh ears of grain. We do not know how this meager amount of food will feed so many, but God is able to do far more than we can fathom.



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Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21, NRSV)

Has Jesus ever asked you to do something that you found to be unbelievable?

Well I can relate to how the disciples felt here a little bit. Now I did not feed 5000 men and then women and children on top of that, maybe about 10,000 people here got fed with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.

But when I was at my first call and it seemed about time for me to be moving on, I submitted my paperwork to seek a call, and I received a call from the assistant to the bishop of the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA. He told me he had a congregation in a small town for me to look at. And I did not turn down any conversation with any congregation any where. This small town was a town of 65,000 people. I guess things in Texas really are big. And the congregation had a membership of 1,000. Now keep in mind they were looking for a senior pastor/head of staff, and I was in the 3rd year of my first call at a congregation that was just over 20 years old and a membership of 156. We had an average weekly attendance of 75, and the population of the town we were in was 1,000. So I was going from being the only staff, to head of staff, from a town of 1,000, to a congregation of 1,000, from a small town in Ohio to a SMALL TOWN in Texas! I have nothing to give, but God worked through me in that place.

How can we feed all of these people? Maybe we all need to change our outlook and ask God, How are you going to let us be a part of how you will do this?

All things are possible for God. Nothing should ever be unbelievable!


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Trinity Sunday….

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.   And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.  These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. (Genesis 1:1-2:4a, NRSV)

Here is a wonderful skit for this day found at

God:  In the beginning, I…

Jesus:  You, what?

God:  I created… you know, the heavens and the earth.

Holy Spirit:  Don’t you mean “we”?

God:  That’s what I hate about Trinity Sunday – it’s so confusing!  One God, three persons.  Of course, you were there too – both of you.  But when we talk about God the Creator, we’re talking about me – that part of me – that part of us –  which created once a long time ago and which still creates.

Jesus:  I have a question for you…why in the world did you create mosquitoes?

God:  (laughs)  I have my reasons!

Holy Spirit:  How about the platypus?  Or the great sea creature the Leviathan?

God:  Don’t you remember the psalm?  I created the Leviathan for the sport of it!  It makes me laugh!  Everything I created, I created good.  Very good.

Jesus:  Even mosquitoes I guess…  But there are people in the world who don’t seem very good.  How do we make sense of the fact that you created them good?

God:  I made them good.  But I also gave them free will – and people with free will turn away from the good sometimes – actually all of the time!

Holy Spirit:  Isn’t that the truth!  I am that part of the Trinity which guides and gives humanity its conscience.  Yet, all of the time, people listen to others rather than me.  Or they listen to themselves and their own thoughts and desires rather than trying to work for the good of others and our world.

God:  (laughs)  Yep!  That’s how I made them!  I made people good and then let them make choices!  And they always choose themselves.  Every time! Gotta love them! (laughs some more)

Jesus:  It doesn’t seem to bother you very much!

God:  It’s all part of being human.  I love them all just the way they are – bad choices and everything.

Jesus:  And yet that’s why I came down to earth – to show people that we love them just as they are, but that’s not how we want them to stay!

Holy Spirit:  We want them to be changed, to be transformed.  To live life really like they’re loved!

Jesus:  Freedom!  That’s what it’s all about!

Holy Spirit:  Freedom to stop worrying about whether or not they’re accepted!

God:  Freedom to trust that I will always be there for them!

Jesus:  Freedom to offer healing and forgiveness like I give them!

Holy Spirit:  Freedom to know that even when bad things happen, I will never give up on them.

God:  Freedom to be generous – even extravagant – in sharing with others.

Jesus:  Isn’t it funny that we love humanity so much, but people still live like they’re all bound up – like they need to work harder to make us love them more, or that they need to get all they can for themselves now, or they won’t have enough later on?

God:  (laugh)  People haven’t really changed much at all over the years!  Remember Adam and Eve – I gave them everything – everything – they could ever want, but it wasn’t enough – they needed the fruit of that tree!

Holy Spirit:  And when I guided Moses and the people out of slavery through the wilderness – they didn’t trust that I would give them manna to eat.  They grumbled all the way!

Jesus:  My generosity got the Jewish and Roman leaders angry with me – angry enough to have me put to death!  They couldn’t understand a king who reigned on a platform of love and service rather than law and order.  (turns to the Holy Spirit: ) Did you ever see that show, “Law and Order”? It’s not bad!

God:  (laugh) People, people, people!  Gotta love them!

Holy Spirit: It’s a big mystery of life to me why people don’t live out their freedom!  I call people to faith.  I call people live out their faith every day.

Jesus:  I tried to show them how to live out their life of faith every day.

God:  I let them know that I expect them to live out their life of faith every day.  I created them to live out their life of faith.

Jesus:  I redeemed them with my own life so that they could live out their life of faith.

Holy Spirit:  I made them my holy ones so that they could live out their life of faith – live out what they were made to be.

God, Jesus, Holy Spirit:  One God; three persons.

Jesus:  It’s still hard for people to understand isn’t it?

Holy Spirit:  What is?

Jesus:  How we could be one God and yet three persons.

Holy Spirit:  Yes – but let’s not try to help them understand it.  Let’s just help them live it.

God (to congregation):  God has created you together with all that exists.

Jesus and Holy Spirit:  We respond with thankful hearts.

Jesus (to congregation):  Jesus Christ, true God and also true human is your Lord.  He has redeemed you.

God and Holy Spirit:  We respond by loving and forgiving others as we are loved and forgiven.

Holy Spirit (to congregation):  The Holy Spirit has called you, enlightened you, made you holy, and kept you in the true faith.

God and Jesus:  We respond with humble obedience.

God:  How has this happened – one God, three persons?

Jesus and Holy Spirit:  It is the mystery of faith.

God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit:  This is most certainly true.  Amen.


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Do you want to…

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. (John 5:1-9, NRSV)

There was a man who laid by this pool every day and he had been ill for 38 years.

When the pool was stirred by the angel, which was what tradition said happened, and the first person in the pool would be healed. The man could not make it to the pool before someone else would get in and be healed.

So Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to be made well?”

This seems to be an easy question. I know many people that if I were to ask them this question the answer would be a resounding YES!!!! Most of us, if held back by something we can be healed from, would jump at the chance to be healed.

But this man gives excuses. He has no one to put him in the pool.  He can’t move fast enough to get in the pool before someone else. It could be he was complacent in being as he is. And changing that, by being healed, would cause him more harm than staying ill. His life was ok and why upset that.

“Do you want to be made well?”

How would you answer Jesus?


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Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?—when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’? (Job 38:1-11, NRSV)

How would you like God to question you?

Gird up your loins like a man, because I have some things to ask you…

Who laid the foundation of the earth?

Who determined its measurements?

Or stretched the line upon it?

Who laid the cornerstone for it?

Who told the sea to stop?

Well there is an easy answer to this… Yet who would want to be questioned by God?

God is the answer, not only to all of these questions He asked of Job, but to life.

The meaning of life is not 42… The meaning to life is living the life that God has called you to live, and then when He comes to ask the questions there is no need to fear!


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