Friday, November 30, 2012

let the same mind be in you

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Today's reading is a great example of thinking theologically about life. Paul urges his readers to base their lives and the way they treat others on Jesus' life. In this case, he's especially thinking about how we use power and how we approach others. Some scholars believe that the second paragraph was taken from a hymn the congregation would have known. Whether that is the case or not, it's certainly one of the most powerful images of Christ's ministry and one I hold dear and hope to live.

God bless,

Philippians 2:1-11
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

a more excellent way

Good morning sisters and brothers,
The church in Corinth had great faith and powerful spiritual gifts, but they struggled with unity. We've been reading Paul's writing to them about the importance of spiritual gifts and how each gift is important to the whole. He also focused on the importance of unity in a diverse community and talks about how the church is Christ's body and each member has a place. In today's reading he takes it a step further by describing how love is much more important than any other spiritual gift. Love is the calling of all Christians, because it is God's way. When we put love first, everything else falls into place.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 

4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

gifts for service

Good afternoon friends,
First thing, tonight we'll be back at the Boulevard to talk about big questions of life and faith. All questions are welcome and the only rule is respect for all. We start at 8:30 and go to about 10. On Sunday after worship we'll host a potluck lunch to sustain us as we decorate the sanctuary for Advent and Christmas. We'll also touch base on where we are with our mission redefinition as a part of New Beginnings as well as an update on where other congregations are.

Today's reading is short and sweet. Paul reminds his readers that different people have different gifts. A big part of our job as Christians is to prayerfully figure out what gifts God has given us and how we can use those gifts to serve God and help others. As Paul lifts up some specific gifts, he'll continue tomorrow with the most important gift God gives all of us.


1 Corinthians 12:27-31
27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

one body, many members

Good morning friends,
Today's reading continues Paul's meditation on the church. The church is the body of Christ. Even though we are all different, we are part of one body. Our differences strengthen the body as a whole. So when we think about someone who is getting on our nerves because they see things very different than we do, try thinking about how that person's difference adds something the church needs. We are all part of Christ's body and we need each other.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 

22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spirit's gifts

Good morning sisters and brothers,
In today's reading Paul makes two main points. The first is that the Holy Spirit is connected with Jesus Christ. The Spirit never leads us against Jesus. The second point is that even though the Spirit makes itself known in many different ways, especially through a wide variety of gifts to people, it is always the same Spirit. There is one Holy Spirit, known in a variety of ways. So even though the Spirit encourages diversity, it is a diversity that leads to unity.

May the Spirit be with you in your day,

1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 

4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

words and conflict

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Anyone who has ever had a hurtful conflict with another person will probably recognize the truth in James's words. While our words have power to heal, they also have power to hurt. James talks about both the danger of our words and some of the other forces that cause conflict in our lives.

God bless,

1 James 3:3-18
3If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. 

The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. 

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

faith and works

Good morning brothers and sisters,
The Protestant Reformation was a time of debate over the core beliefs and structure of the church. The main idea for Martin Luther and those like John Calvin (the father of the Reformed tradition the Presbyterian Church is a part of) is that we are saved by God's grace through faith alone. The Roman Catholic point of view is that our good works are also part of our salvation. This passage from James was very important in supporting the Catholic argument. Of course, like most arguments, both sides overstated their disagreements. Catholics believe faith is important and Protestants believe that faith leads to good works. No matter what tradition we identify with we know that God calls us to live our faith, which is what James is saying.

God bless,

James 2:14-26
14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and you're getting a chance to relax today. James continues his train of thought about living our faith with an example. He talks about the temptation to play favorites, while God calls us to treat everyone equally. The church should be one place where everyone is welcomed and everyone's gifts and questions are accepted.

Blessings on your day,

James 2:1-13
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

8You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

true religion

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm grateful this morning for you. Laurelton is a congregation with many gifts, especially kindness and openness to the new things God is doing. I hope today is a day of reflection, gratitude and joy for you with friends or family. James reminds his readers that all good gifts come from God, so it's always right to give thanks.

He also reminds us that faith is about not only knowing the right thing, but also doing it. The true mark of religion is whether we live our beliefs, especially whether we take care of those who are vulnerable. When we act on our faith, we grow into the people God calls us to be.

God bless,

James 1:13-27
13No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. 16Do not be deceived, my beloved. 17Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

19You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. 22But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.

25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. 26If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

trials and an upside down world

Good morning friends,
Tonight there is no supper and scripture, choir or discussion series at the Boulevard for Thanksgiving. I pray everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving. Today's reading is from James, a short gem of a letter we don't read from often. James reminds his readers that trials, difficulties in life help us mature by strengthening our endurance. James also talks about how God's economy is different from ours. James focuses on how wealth disappears while God honors the poor. Jesus put it another way: "The first will be last and the last first." As we give thanks for what we have, let us remember those with less.

God bless,

James 1:2-12
2My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. 5If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

9Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away. 12Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

knowledge of love and love beyond knowledge

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Tonight at 7 at Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church we will have an opportunity to worship with our neighboring churches for Thanksgiving. It should be a fun worship service and a great opportunity to get to know our neighbors. I hope to see you there.

Our reading today is Paul's prayer that the Christians in Ephesus would come to understand God's amazing love in Christ. He also prays that they would come to know that love even beyond the power of knowledge. Knowledge is important, but the most important thing we can know is that God loves us. The more we know that, the more we can trust God and the less fear can touch us.

God bless,

Ephesians 3:14-21
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

no division

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Yesterday's worship was a wonderful opportunity to welcome Joyce, Marla, Colleen, Amy and John into membership at Laurelton officially and to celebrate God's calling in our life. We also had the joy of welcoming AJ into membership in Christ's family by baptism. I left church feeling very blessed. I want to remind you of the interfaith Thanksgiving service at Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (1000 N Winton, about 1/2 mile south of church) tomorrow night at 7. It's a great opportunity to worship with other followers of Jesus and to give thanks to God for all our blessings.

Speaking about other Christians, Paul writes in our passage today to a church mostly made up of gentile believers. It's hard for us to imagine the division that had existed between Jews and gentiles, but any division we see in society now can give us the idea. Paul writes that when we follow Christ, we are joined to his one body and we become one. At the cross, Christ puts to death all that divides the church. In him we have unity, welcome and fellowship. Part of our challenge is to make that unity more visible as we welcome others as brothers and sisters.

God bless,

Ephesians 2:14-22
14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

saved by grace

Good evening friends,
Tomorrow, we'll be welcoming some new members in worship, which is always a highlight. Please come share your support. Our reading this evening is a reflection on one of the most important ideas in our faith: God saves us, not us. There is nothing we can do to make God love us; nothing we can do to earn our salvation. God already loves us and saves us from sin. We come to know that through faith, through trusting God. When we trust God we feel the assurance that we are loved and that the ruler and judge of creation is love, so everything will be alright. That's especially important to remember in our world, where rockets and bombs fall on innocent children tonight and people will go to bed hungry because we are too selfish to share. God saves us, and in the end love will win.

God bless,

Ephesians 2:1-10
You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 

4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Friday, November 16, 2012

enlightened hearts

Good morning friends,
Today's reading is short, and I'd recommend taking a moment to digest between paragraphs. Paul prays for the church that each of the believers would grow in their knowledge of God. As part of that he prays that God's "spirit of revelation" would enlighten their hearts to know the hope of our calling and the greatness of God's power for us. That's a great prayer that I join in enthusiastically for each of us. 

May God bless us with enlightened hearts today and every day,

Ephesians 1:15-23
15I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

living for the future

Good evening friends,
Today's reading is a difficult one, but the point Paul emphasizes several times is that in Christ we have redemption. By this he means not only that our sins are forgiven, but also that we become God's children by adoption and get a new start in that way as well. While we already have this new life as children of God, we also look ahead to an even better future, what Paul calls "a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth..." When things have run their course we will be part of the redemption of the whole world. We see that future now in the love we know in Jesus and we hope for God's plan to be fulfilled. 

Knowing that future guides us in our actions. God calls us to fit in not with the twisted world around us now, but with the redeemed future we hope for. God calls us to love other people as Chris has loved us, to live like the blessed future is here already. In hope, we follow Christ each day.

God bless,

Ephesians 1:3-14
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 

13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

God is love

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Tomorrow we'll be back at the Boulevard at 8:30pm for a discussion on asking big questions when you don't know the answers. Last week we had an engaging and wide ranging discussion talking about community, scripture and life experience. 

In a recent survey of non-church goers who were asked to give the first word that came to mind when they thought about Christians, some of the most common responses were: judgmental, hypocritical and close-minded. While those traits might describe some of the loudest public voices in Christianity, John makes it clear that they are not traits of faithful Christians. He says love is the point of our faith. God loves us so deeply and sacrificially in Christ that our first calling is to love others in the same spirit. If we truly follow that, we'll be on the right path.

God bless,

1 John 4:7-21
7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19We love because he first loved us. 20Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Monday, November 12, 2012

love in action

Good morning brothers and sisters,
John reflects on how we know we belong to God. We know we belong to God if we love each other, because love is from God. We don't earn God's love, God gives it freely, but when we know and love God, that love bears fruit in our lives. Love leads us to love others in clear, practical ways. Love demands service; faith demands action. As we love others, we grow in faith and become more like Christ.

Blessings on your journey today,

1 John 3:11-19
11For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you.

14We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. 16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? 18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Good evening friends,
As we enjoy the comforts of home, please keep our service men and women and our veterans in your prayers. Many of these men and women have given up a lot to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Many are far from home now, thinking about their loved ones.

In today's reading, Paul reminds us that God has called us in love to be God's people. We are forgiven and loved in an amazing way in Jesus, so we should be loving and forgiven in our relationships with others.

God bless,

Colossians 3:12-17
12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Seek heavenly things

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Paul urges his readers to put their faith into practice. When we become Christian our old self dies and we begin a new life centered on Christ. In that life everyone is equal and we are all called to grow in Christ's image. That's the calling for all Christians. Being a Christian is first of all about following Christ. Thinks like traditions, institutions, even community are consequences of following Christ together.

God bless,

Colossians 3:1-11
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

5Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 

8But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

unity in Christ

Good evening friends,
We often think about common ideas or beliefs holding the church together. The truth is both at the local congregational level and for the church worldwide, our unity is in Jesus Christ. In Christ, the universe was created. In Christ God became human and reconciled all creation back to God through the blood of the cross. Christ is the head, unity and foundation of the church. When we cling to him, there's nothing we can't do as a church.

God bless,

Colossians 1:11-20
11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully
12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

welcoming the weak

Good evening friends,
I'd like to remind you that we're starting our new Boulevard discussion series: "Asking big questions when you don't know the answers." We're meeting at 8:30 at the Boulevard to talk about questions of life, meaning and whatever questions you might have. All are welcome regardless of what you believe.

Today's reading reminds us to use our gifts and strength to help others, not just ourselves. It also reminds us that everything begins with Christ. In Christ, God welcomes us at our worst and makes us one family in faith. Knowing that, we should also welcome each other graciously.

God bless,

Romans 15:1-7
We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. 3For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Monday, November 5, 2012

honoring difference

Good evening friends,
I'm sure you've heard this from many people already, but please make sure to vote tomorrow. The polls open at 6 am and close at 9 pm, but it's important to make a plan to get there. Today's reading reminds us that in the community of faith there are many differences of opinion. It's important what we think and believe, but there are many areas where faithful Christians will not agree. It's not our job to judge others; that's God's job. No matter what we agree or disagree on, we are all brothers and sisters. Especially in a divisive time in our nation and denomination, it's important to love each other and to heal division as often as we can. Pray, love, vote.

God bless,


Romans 14:1-13
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. 5Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

7We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12So then, each of us will be accountable to God. 13Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

children or adults

Good evening brothers and sisters,
Paul continues his argument that quarreling and division is a sign of poor spiritual life. Teachers, pastors and other leaders are God's servants to build up the church, but it is all about God. The teachers we follow can make a big difference in our life, but the foundation of our life is Jesus. As the election draws closer, let's remember what is important. We are each made in God's image; we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Our political opinions are important, but they are not ultimate.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 3:1-10
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? 

5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

boasting in the Lord

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Paul continues his discussion of faith and community with a detour about our strength and God's strength. This is one of the most important passages in Paul's writing for a Christian understanding of power. When we focus on ourselves: our wisdom, our strength, our status, we forget about God. So God breaks into the world in a totally different way. Instead of being powerful and impressive, God became a poor teacher and died on a cross in shame. That seems like foolishness to people chasing after status and recognition. For those who know Jesus, we recognize a deeper truth: a God who loves us so much he puts everything else aside to save us. 

If God acts like this, it suggests Christians shouldn't be so worried about worldly power, reputation or money. Instead we follow Jesus in humble service. I wonder what embracing the way of the cross would mean for Christians when it comes to politics? What if we tried to listen to our opponents instead of demeaning them? What if we worried less about our power and more about how to serve others?

God bless,

1 Corinthians 1:17-31
17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. 18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 

26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

no divisions

Good afternoon friends,
Last night's Halloween party at the church was lots of fun. Thanks to all who helped or donated to make it a success. Next week Supper and Scripture will be back to normal. We'll also be starting a series at the Boulevard Bar and Grill across the street from the church from 8:30-10pm. The idea is to have open conversations about important questions in life. The series is open to everyone, regardless of faith; in fact, I'm especially hoping for people who feel like they have lots of questions or skepticism about traditional religion. As long as you're interested in having thoughtful, respectful, open minded discussion, this series is for you. It's also a great time to invite a friend.

Today's reading is important in the light of the divisions our culture faces, which are highlighted by a national election. Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth about the importance of unity. He doesn't mean that everyone has to agree about everything or be the same. Instead, he means that no matter whether we agree, we are not supposed to let our leaders or opinions divide us. It seems that in the church at that time some people were taking a lot of pride in identifying with different church leaders and were looking down on people who followed other leaders. Paul's point is that human leaders are not the main idea: Jesus is. Whichever candidates you prefer, don't let that divide you from people who prefer different candidates. In Christ we are all united.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 1:4-14
4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 

10Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 

14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)