Tag Archives: spirituality

what you got…

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, ‘The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.’ (2 Corinthians 8:8-15, NRSV)

We do not do things to earn our way to the good graces of God, it can not be done that way. We do not do good works to earn our way to heaven. We do good works because of the genuineness of the love we have for Christ. We are so moved by the gift He gave us, by giving His life so we may have life, we are moved to genuinely love others and give.

You see we are all capable of giving and doing the mission of God. We have to give out of what we have been given. Not out of what others do. We can not judge ourselves against someone else, or judge what another gives or does not give based upon our gift. God judges the heart of the follower and knows if you are giving as you should. And that is all that matters. So give out of what you got and don’t worry about anyone else.

Be moved genuinely by the love Christ has for you and show that love and mercy and grace to the world.



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I have a dream…

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor  he told them a parable. ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor  in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place”, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’ He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ (Luke 14:1,7-14, NRSV)

Honor and shame is all Jesus is talking about here. Society in His day was based on honor and shame. People invited people to dinner parties that would then be in their debt. So they would have someone, or many someones who would owe them something.

Jesus here gives us 2 pieces of advice. One that is very good advice – Be Humble. Be Modest, and do not think to highly of yourself. We all have moments where we think to highly of ourselves. Jesus advises us to be modest and to not take to high of a seat so when we are asked to move up, we receive more honor. Good advice.

The second piece of advice is fairly ludicrous! Jesus turns to the one giving the party and tells them to invite people who can not do anything for them. Really? How am I suppose to gain more honor if a do things for those who can’t do me any favors in return? Or if they are indebted to me, I will never get anything because they can’t repay me? Jesus wants us to see what the kingdom of God is like. Where those who do not deserve or can repay get everything, just like you!

And this week is the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr I Have A Dream SpeechIt is very interesting that this momentous occasion in American history almost did not happen they way it did. For some history on this read Rev. David Hansen’s blog here.

But I contest that the dream that Martin talks about is not his dream, but God’s vision, and what Jesus tells us about in the reading above! We are to love each person equally and accept everyone regardless of how they look, how they act and if they agree with us or not. The dream that has yet to be realized 50 years later, or is that 2000 years later is one that we can make happen if we will do what Jesus told us to. So what does your faith mean to you and has it changed you to be countercultural and not be worried about who has done what for me lately!

Live the dream and the vision of the kingdom of God and be different!


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Set this place on fire!

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? (Luke 12:49-56, NRSV)

This is the gospel of our Lord! It was hard for me as a pastor to say that after reading this text this morning, because upon first hearing and thought process there is not much good new to be heard here. Jesus tells us that He has come to bring fire to the earth and He wishes it was already here. And then He goes on to tell us that He didn’t come to bring peace but division!

So the second destruction of the earth is coming by fire and Jesus is going to set this place ablaze. And not only that, but He is going to cause families to be at odds with each other. So just where is the good news. You read a text like this and you want to run to the other texts for the day and see what they have…

But hold on. Is the problem we have with what Jesus says here the texts fault, or something within us?

The text has done nothing wrong, and Jesus is getting His feelings out. He has done this before when tables are over turned in the temple. He has done some harsh things…

So what is this fire? We saw this earlier in Luke when the disciples asked Jesus if they should call for fire to rain down from heaven on the Samaritan village… It could be the second destruction of the world. God gave us the rainbow to tell us He would never again destroy the world with water, but that left every other element up for grabs.

The thing we need to look at here is what the context of this text is. This text is part of the journey to Jerusalem. Jesus has set His face towards Jerusalem and the cross. And this text is part of that. So in the whole grand scheme of things, this is before the cross…

So what if this fire, is not destruction? What if this fire is the inhabiting of all of the earth by the fire baptism of the Holy Spirit that comes on Pentecost? You see Jesus has not died, or risen yet in Luke, so Pentecost has not happened. What if this fire that Jesus is bringing is the coming Holy Spirit, and how He wishes it was already blazing on the earth and in the hearts of all men? He wishes this was so, because he is going to the baptism of His death.

And because of this He is stressed. Did you hear that? Jesus is stressed because He s going to be killed. To me, that right there is the good news! Jesus understand the stress of having to do something or face something. He came to earth and became human and understands what it is to feel stressed. He gets what we go through. And He understands what it can do to your life.

So do not think of the fire as destruction, but as the coming Spirit, and know that no matter what you are facing, Jesus has seen what it is like to be stressed, and it will all be something you can make it through with Him at your side!


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Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and sit will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13, ESV)

I believe I can easily say this is a passage of scripture that has most pastors running for the hills when we see it. You see the text says that is you ask for something God will give it, and if you seek something you will find it and if you knock it will be opened… Well we have all had those times we asked and we did not get what we asked for, and we sought, and are still seeking, and we knocked and the door seemed to shut even tighter…

But the point of the verses is Jesus teaching the disciples to pray, and it is a simple yet complex thing to have a conversation with the Father. But Jesus breaks it down for us, in a conversation and relationship builder.

Prayer is really simple, it is a conversation. Jesus addresses God as Father, or better yet, as Daddy. The word Abba is the very familial word for father and would be equivalent to our word daddy. Jesus tells us to call the Father Daddy! And then He tells us to ask Daddy to keep His name holy. We can not do that, only He can, and so we ask Him to work His holiness in and through all that we have and everywhere we go, that He would be holy in us and around us, that His kingdom would come and be made known here. And then He breaks it down to three easy to remember petitions:

  1. For provision
  2. For relationships
  3. For safety

Jesus tells the disciples to ask for their daily bread. Ask for the things they need in order to survive. Then He tells them to ask for forgiveness as they have forgiven. We need to keep the lines of communication open and seek to right our wrongs. We must constantly be in check of the relationships we are in and keep them moving forward. Then He tells them to to ask to not be lead into temptation. This is for our safety. We need to stay out of the place that will get us into trouble and we could all use assistance in this!

So it is easy. Simple. And the next part is Jesus did not say to pray these words but to pray in this way, so take His outline:

  1. Open the conversation: Daddy
  2. Ask for provision
  3. Ask for relationship help/advice/time
  4. Ask for safety

And when you do this, do it in your words, honestly what you are thinking and feeling in your heart.

And then comes the hard part and what I believe the text pastors like to stray away from deals with, Trust…

We have to trust that God will actually give us what we need. And be there for us as He has promised. In order for Jesus to show the disciples this is something they can believe in He tells them about a man who has late night visitors. He goes to a neighbor and asks for some bread. Now most of us today would see this as a huge inconvenience on the man who is asleep in his house with his children. Yet the word translated above as “impudence” is better translated shamelessness. Because of the man who did not have what he needed for his guest and goes shamelessly to his neighbor seeking help, the neighbor will get up and give it to him. Also because in the system of Jesus’ day, if the man did not rise and help the man who came knocking, the sleeping man would be the one who would be shamed for not helping his neighbor in need. And if this is how we humans do things, and help people around us, how much more can we trust in, believe in, have faith in Jesus and Daddy God to follow through on what He has promised. You see it is true that he will follow through on His promises. But He will not give us what we ask for, He will give us what we need. That is why answers to prayers can be, Yes, No and Not right now, Or my parental favorite: Maybe…

But is that all this lesson give us?

An easy outline for prayer. Jesus telling us to honestly tell our Father what we are feeling and holding dear in our hearts, and then to trust. Yes and no…

You see there is a connection between this text and the text of Luke 4:1-13. This is the text of the Temptation of Jesus, and the temptations are for Food, Power, and touching Heaven.

Satan tells Jesus to turn the stones into bread – He needs His daily provision. But Jesus says we have to live on the very word of God. You see, even though Jesus could turn the stones to bread, He needed to ask God to provide for Him, because God will give us what we need, not what we ourselves are seeking after or wanting.

Then Satan offers Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world. He offers Him relationships with subjects to follow Him. You see relationships treated in the wrong way leads to broken lives and hurt people. We need to hold the power in the right place and allow God to hold the place pf supreme power in our lives and all of our relationships, otherwise things could go astray.

Then Satan tells Jesus to go to the pinnacle of the temple and throw Himself down, because the Holy Angels will not allow Him to hurt Himself. You see in Jesus day, the pinnacle of the Temple was the place where Heaven and earth met. It was the highest place in the world, and Jesus could jump from here and not get hurt. And while this is true, we are not to go into places where we can be hurt.

So this simple prayer is a way for us to manage our temptations as well as maintain our relationship with God. So talk simply, honestly and trusting in what God has promised, for He will never let us down.


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One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:22-25, ESV)

Can you picture this scene?

Can you image being there? How would you have felt? Would you be the one racing to wake up the sleeping Jesus? We all have been there when life is coming at us from all different angles, and it seems like everything is going right down the drain. We then turn to see where Jesus is and what He is doing… How do you think the disciples felt when they saw Him asleep when they were about to die? How do you feel when you turn to see Him sleeping when your world is falling apart?

But isn’t the just what Jesus asked them? Where is your faith? We have faith in something we can not see, we hope in the promises of God which we might have experienced some of them, but have we experienced all that He has promised us? We have faith in a God we have not seen, we have sen His effects, and affects, but have we seen Him, yet we still believe in, have hope in, have faith in…

How much more should we have faith in Jesus who is here with us? Why does it matter if He is sleeping? He has promised to be with us and provide for our every need, and do we trust that?

Faith is not understanding, but trusting. We must not think it is possible for God, we must believe God will take care of us. Even in the darkest valley, even in the deepest most terrible storm our lives have seen, God will be there and He will protect us. In this we can trust, and we can have faith that no matter what happens He is with us and watching over us.


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The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner

“Spiritual transformation does not result from fixing our problems. It results from turning to God in the midst of them and meeting God just as we are.” (page 67)

David G. Benner opens up a topic most Christian think is taboo to show us it is the one thing we truly need to embrace to become the person God is calling us to be. In order to live the uniquely created life God has for us, we must first except ourselves as God has excepted us, just as we are. In order for us to this we must look at the darkness inside of us, and see who we are and acknowledge our sins and troubles. In order for us to change something we can not crucify it on the cross as sin if we deny we do it. We must accept who we are and work with God to use it for His glory!

The gospel is not a method book for sin management. It is not a guideline for avoiding sin and a way to deal with our guilt when we fail as we always do. The gospel is a way for us to understand who we truly are, who God created us to be, and move forward in who God created us to be. “Self-acceptance always precedes genuine self-surrender and self-transformation.” (page 58)

David G. Brenner helps us to look at who we truly are and accept that, and then move forward with God in being who He has uniquely created us to be!


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into the light

20130713-161555.jpg“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21 ESV)

So who among us really can stand? The one who always does what God wants us to do. Because if your deeds are wicked you will love the darkness so your deeds do not become made known.

How many of us have things we never discuss because we do not want anyone to know about it? We all have things hidden away in the recesses of our lives, yet God knows all about them, and some day they will be made known, so why do we hide them?

You see that is exactly what is being discusses here. We all have things we want to keep in the darkness. But if we love the light and follow after Jesus then all of our deeds will be made known.

So step into the light and follow Jesus. Remembering that He loves you regardless of what is hidden in the darkness.


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