Tuesday, April 30, 2013

praise of God's glory

Good afternoon friends,
Today's reading continues yesterday's. Paul continues to give thanks for the faith of the Ephesians. What I notice is that he bases all the rest of his discussion on faith. Everything for Paul comes back to theology. When we know God and God's love, and live according to that love, everything else falls into place. I love the poetry with which Paul praises God. I hope it inspires your evening too.

God bless,

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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

destined for goodness

Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
Today's reading is a little challenging due to its poetic and theological intensity. The overall message is that God chose us in Christ and has given us all we need for salvation. We don't need to earn God's love because God gives it freely. At the same time, as part of our redemption, we are destined for good works and to make progress as we grow in faith.

Blessings on your journey today,

Ephesians 1:1-14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I was glad when they said, "Let us go to the house of the Lord."

Good afternoon friends,
Today's reading is one of several Psalms called Psalms of Ascent. What that means is they were songs sung by pilgrims as they came to the end of their journey to worship in the temple in Jerusalem. The psalmist in this case rejoices in the beauty of Jerusalem and the opportunity to worship with the other people of God in God's house. Do we feel the same joy when we come to the house of the Lord? How could we open ourselves to that joy more?

God bless,

Psalm 122
1I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
2Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
3Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.
4To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

5For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.
6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
7Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”
8For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

don't go to court

Good evening friends,
In this section from Paul's letter to the Corinthians he makes a claim that's almost shocking now. Christians should not allow their disputes to escape the church. Even when we disagree strongly with another believer, even when we think another Christian has wronged us, we can (and should) handle the dispute within the church. God has given the community gifts of wisdom, discernment, understanding and wise speech to be able to settle disputes. What would it take to make this a reality today?

God bless,

1 Corinthians 6:1-8
When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters?

4If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? 5I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, 6but a believer goes to court against a believer—and before unbelievers at that? 7In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

unity and maturity

Good evening friends,
In today's reading Paul says that Christians who take great pride in their teachers are immature in the faith. We all probably have teachers we are grateful to for shaping us, and that's fine. At the same time, God is the one who does everything. Having different approaches or favorite writers or teachers, doesn't divide us. The church is one, and Christ is our foundation.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 3:1-9
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.

Monday, April 22, 2013

unity in Christ

Good afternoon friends,
This week we're looking at the church as a loving community. Today's reading talks about the call for unity. Paul knows the Corinthian community well, so he knows their struggles. He here about the temptation to define ourselves by our leaders or teachers. The truth is that the church is one body united in Christ. All the differences between us are less important than the unity we have in Jesus. That's what makes us who we are.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 1:1-13
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

out or the depths

Good morning friends,
Today's reading is a favorite prayer in trouble for me. We'll sing Psalm 130 during worship tomorrow, so reading it today makes sense. Often we reach out to God when we're at the end of our rope. We pray with neighbors in Boston who have lost friends or relatives this week. We pray with neighbors here in Rochester who worry about losing their homes. We pray when we feel hopeless or powerless in our own lives. No matter where we are, God hears us.

God bless,

Psalm 130
1Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. 2Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 3If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.

5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

7O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 8It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Friday, April 19, 2013

righteous prayer

Good morning friends,
Today's reading features James teaching about prayer. It's a good reminder that we can pray both when things are going well and when they're not. Prayer does matter, even if we don't understand it.

God bless,

James 5:12-20
12Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. 

13Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. 

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. 19My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

the armor of God

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Today's reading is a favorite image for many Christians, and quite unfamiliar for others. Paul talks about prayer and the Christian life more generally in terms of putting on the armor of God. The idea is that our life of faith can be a struggle. We're always surrounded by temptation to do what is easy instead of what is faithful. Sin, selfishness and the devil himself try to knock us off our path. In all our challenges we reach out to God for help, and we strengthen ourselves with God's word and with spiritual preparation. Notice how much attention Paul gives to prayer and how he asks the church to support him in prayer so he can speak boldly. We are all in it together.

God bless,

Ephesians 6:10-20
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 

14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Christ's mission in the world

Good morning brothers and sisters,
As many of you know, Laurelton is part of a coalition of urban churches called Urban Presbyterians Together (UPT). The latest UPT project is an exciting one: we're building a house together. Along with Flower City Habitat for Humanity, UPT members and friends are building a house in the JOSANA neighborhood in Rochester. No prior experience is needed to volunteer, but you do need to be 16 or older. Work days run from 8:45 to 3:45 Wednesday through Saturday and Tuesday 9:45-3:45. You can only sign up for a full day. You can sign up on your own or with friends. The easiest way to sign up is through the Habitat website, which I've linked below. You can also call the Habitat office to sign up. It's not possible to sign up for part of a day. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me or Charlie Plummer a call or email.


to sign up by phone: Kayla Himelein
546.1470 ext. 315

Our reading for the day is the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, commonly called just Acts. Acts is the sequel to Luke's Gospel, so going right from yesterday's close of Luke to the opening of Acts is fitting. Notice that Jesus gives his disciples a mission and tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit. The mission is to spread the good news of forgiveness and love in Jesus Christ to the whole world. Even before the Spirit comes, the disciples are praying, which is a great attitude for us too as we seek where God is leading.

God bless,

Acts 1:1-14
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Monday, April 15, 2013

opening the scriptures

Good afternoon friends,
First, please keep the people of Boston and all those affected by the terrorist attack in Boston in your prayers. Our reading for today shows us the risen Jesus meeting his disciples. Notice that his first concern is convincing them that he is really risen. From there he moves to getting them ready for their mission. Their mission is to bear witness to Jesus and to proclaim forgiveness in his name. An important part of getting the disciples ready for that mission is helping them understand the scripture. Scripture is still important as we prepare for our mission now.

God bless,

Luke 24: 36-49
36While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence. 44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

itching ears

Good evening friends,
Today's reading comes near the end of Paul's second letter to Timothy. Paul urges Timothy to be patient, but also firm in his teaching. Often the truth is hard to hear, so Paul knows Timothy's work will be difficult sometimes. I'm grateful to you for making my work as a minister joyful.
Blessings on your evening and on the new week,

2 Timothy 4:1-8
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 

5As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully. 6As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

more training

Good afternoon friends,
I hope you're having a good and relaxing weekend. In today's reading, Paul reminds Timothy that part of his calling as a leader in the church is to correct those who are going astray, but he needs to do that gently. Gentleness and love is as important as truth when it comes to helping others see where they need to change. Humility is a big part of that as well, since we are not meant to judge others, and we all have room to grow.


Also in this passage are two of the most famous verses about scripture: "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work." Inspired can also be translated as "God breathed," because the scripture is God's word, even though it was written by people. When we spend time regularly with the Bible, we will grow in faith and in spiritual power. Notice that Paul again uses the image of training in godliness; we need to be intentional about our faith development. That's one thing we'll be talking about after worship tomorrow: how can we do more to help our youngest members develop in their faith. I hope you'll be part of that conversation.

God bless,

2 Timothy 3:10-17
10Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11my persecutions and suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. 

14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

trust in trouble

Good evening friends,
Please keep Barb Miller in your prayers as she begins rehab at Hill Haven following a fall on Sunday. Our reading today reminds us that faith requires discipline to be the people God calls us to be. When we really trust and follow God, we will sometimes find ourselves in places we wouldn't ordinarily like to be. Even then, God's word is free, powerful and effective. Faith means trusting God, and God is trustworthy in life and in death.

God bless,

2 Timothy 2:1-13
You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; 2and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. 3Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer. 5And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. 6It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things.

8Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; 13if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

holding on to our faith

Good evening friends,
Here comes our next installment of Paul's letters to Timothy. Paul remembers that Timothy (like many of us) inherited his faith from his mother and grandmother. Still, Timothy has had to make that faith his own for it to be effective in him. Paul also remembers him in all his ministry to hold tight to the faith he has learned. The teaching we learn growing up in the church or that we learn about later in life is our check to see if we're following God the right way.

God bless,

2 Timothy 1:5-14
5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 6For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

8Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

training in godliness

Good morning brothers and sisters,
We get a cool glimpse into the early church in Paul's letters, and a unique perspective in the two letters to Timothy. Timothy was a young leader in the church, whom Paul took under his wing. He thought of Timothy as a spiritual son, and the intimacy of their connection comes across clearly. As a young pastor, these letters have been a special source of encouragement to me.

The two things I especially want to lift up in today's reading are Paul's idea of training in godliness and the importance of public reading of scripture. Often we treat church as an event, as an important part of our week that gives us strength, but we don't always think of it as training. Spiritual life isn't something that just happens, and it's not a static situation. Like school or athletes training for competition, we should approach our faith life expecting to make progress, expecting to work hard to get better at faithfulness. An important part of that training is scripture reading, both publicly and on our own.

God bless you in your training today,

1 Timothy 4:6-16
6If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 11These are the things you must insist on and teach.

12Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Monday, April 8, 2013

the point of teaching

Good afternoon friends,
This week we're talking about scripture and how scripture prepares us to be the church and to follow Jesus. Our reading today is from Paul's first letter to his protege, Timothy. Paul writes to Timothy about how important it is for church leaders to help people keep their focus on important things, not on meaningless controversy. He also reminds him that the law is for those who struggle with their behavior, as a check against doing the wrong thing. When we follow love in everything we do, we follow the law automatically. The point of the rules in the Bible isn't to trip us up, but to remind us when we get off the right path.

God bless,

1 Timothy 1:1-11
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, 4and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith.

5But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. 8Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 9This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

the Lord's supper

Good evening friends,
This is the most detailed teaching we get in the Bible about communion. It's a bit challenging, but a great read.


1 Corinthians 11:23-34
23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 

27Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. 30For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.

Friday, April 5, 2013

this is the new covenant

Good evening friends,
Since we just celebrated Easter it feels like a step backwards to read about Jesus' last supper with his disciples. But Sunday we're talking about communion, and Jesus' words to his disciples at their last meal is a good hint for what that means for us. When we come to the Lord's table we're talking about the kingdom of God, anticipating a time when all people can be together in peace.

God bless,

Luke 22:7-20
7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” 9They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?” 10“Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters 11and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 12He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.” 13So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

14When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

lifting the cup

Good evening brothers and sisters,
On Sunday Carl will preach about meeting the risen Christ at the communion table. Today's reading isn't about communion exactly, but it is a beautiful psalm of trust and challenge. The psalmist reflects on God's presence in hard times. These are critical themes in our communion worship as we remember Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection for us. God is always with us; our life and ministry is how we say thanks.

God bless,

Psalm 116
1I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
2Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
4Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”
5Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.

6The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
7Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
9I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
10I kept my faith, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”;
11I said in my consternation, “Everyone is a liar.”

12What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?
13I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,
14I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
15Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.
16O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord.
18I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
19in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

meeting on the road

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Yesterday we read about how two of Jesus' followers met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, but didn't recognize him. As they talk, he starts teaching them about the scriptures so they can understand who he really is. Today we see where that conversation takes them.


Luke 24:25-35
25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On the road

Good morning friends,
Today's reading is another Easter story of two disciples walking to a nearby village and meeting Jesus on the road. Notice how they tell the story of Jesus as they know it so far. How would you tell the story of Jesus in your life?

God bless,

Luke 24:13-24
13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.

21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Monday, April 1, 2013

Christ is risen!

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Happy Easter! We had two wonderful worship services yesterday, one at the lake at sunrise and the other in our sanctuary. It's so good to be together to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Today's reading tells the story of Christ's resurrection from Luke's Gospel. The women go to the tomb early Easter morning to anoint Jesus' body. We are still bearers of that good news today. How will you live the resurrection?

God bless,

Luke 24:1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 

8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.