Food For Thought

Thursday– June 30, 2011

Sacrifice isn’t so much about what we give up as it is about what we are willing to let go of; not necessarily for our own sake but for the sake of someone else.

But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed.  Luke 23: 23

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth.” Acts 8: 32

Psalm 131,132, [133] * 134, 135; 1Samuel 13:5-18; Acts 8:26-40; Luke 23:13-25

The Inquiry

Wednesday-June 29, 2011

John 21: 15b, 19b “…do you love me more than these?” …Then he said to him “follow me.”

He asked him three times, and Peter became uncomfortable. I think Peter was scared. After all, Jesus’ first foretelling of Peter wasn’t very favorable. What could he possibly reveal this time? I don’t think Peter was ready to hear what Jesus was sure to tell him anyway. Perhaps Jesus threefold inquiry was necessary because of Peter’s threefold denial. In any case, I believe it to be Jesus way of assuring Peter that what has happened in the past no longer matters. It’s what we do today that makes the difference. But what are “these” of which Jesus speaks? Is he referring to the other disciples, the life of a fisherman, or perhaps his circumstance as a follower of a crucified man? Perhaps it is all three? It is a bit difficult to believe that Jesus was referring to the other disciples. There is no way to really know? However, whichever the reference, the level of faith that Jesus had for the heart of Peter is made clear by the one who chose Peter in the first place. We should never forget that God knows us. Even when we are in the midst of uncertainty, God is always certain and we have to hold on to that certainty. So go ahead and proclaim the message! Be persistent and wisdom shall be our reward.

Psalm 87; Ezekiel 34:11-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-8; John 21:15-19;

Lost And Found In Translation

Tuesday-June 28, 2011

Luke 22: 70 …You say that I am (the son of God)

Does ignorance drive fear or fear drive ignorance? I almost got out of Scotland without a troubling thought. On the last morning (in Glasgow) I was up quite early in order to write about my experience in Iona. As I was preparing to leave an older gentleman handed me his card key and in a very heavy Scottish accent quickly said something that I did not understand. Others in the lobby understood what he said and began to smile while I was looking and feeling perplexed. It wasn’t until we were sitting in the airport that the other adult in the group asked if knew what the man had said? Smiling, I said no. When he translated what was said I could feel my face drop. I responded that I was glad I did not understand because I would have taken him the wrong way. I must admit on the flight home I did wonder if this man was joking or for real. By this time it was far too late to be upset about other peoples ignorance or insensitivities. My reality is that no matter where you are in this world, out of ignorance, fear or both, there will be other people who will see you as something other than who you really are and it doesn’t matter if they are joking or for real. Their previous experiences or lack thereof, has already formed their perception. It is times like these that I am blessed to know who I am, a child of God. For those who understand I am grateful. For those who don’t, I am especially grateful to be walking in love, although still imperfect. Recalling 1John 4:18, ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear’…and so the journey goes on.

Psalm [120], 121, 122, 123*124, 125, 126, [127]; 1Samuel 11:1-15; Acts 8:1-13; Luke 22:63-71

Remembering Iona

They say this place is nearer to God. Iona Scotland is a small island off the southeast coast of the mainland. For me at least it became a place to retreat, recover and rediscover all that I thought I had lost. This is not to say that I found it all, but perhaps I am now looking in the right direction. First and foremost I rediscovered yet again God’s love. This may seem somewhat odd but you can’t visit a place like Iona and not recognize the world or rather the earth as God’s gracious gift and the tremendous love of his creation.  Second, I rediscovered life, the one God intended me to have, a life of peace. This of course is quite easy to do in Iona a place virtually untouched by “development”, but with just enough conveiences.  Even the weather (often cool and rainy one moment and sunny the next)  I believe was designed to keep one from using it as an excuse for not getting something done. The tourist who populate the isle on the weekend is just a reminder that the rest of the world still exist. For them their “world” does not change and they do eventually leave. However, for me at least my body has left, but my spirit and mind remain and hopefully, prayerfully the peace, love and joy I experienced there you will see in me where ever I am remembering Iona.

Leadership

Saturday-June 18, 2011

1Samuel 4:5  When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded.

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The Israelites thought they had it made. The ark of the covenant of the Lord had been brought from Shiloh into their camp and the celebration of their protection by it, could be heard by the camp of the Philistines who had risen against them. Knowing the power of the God of Israel, the Philistines fearing enslavement all the more encouraged themselves to fight and Israel was defeated. Unfortunately, under Eli’s leadership, or lack thereof, the people of Israel had a false sense of security. I have more fully come to understand that as Christians, regardless of our role, we have leadership responsibility to be honest about who we are in Christ and honest with one another. Although I have no doubt in my mind that God forgives and redeems us from what ever pit we’ve fallen into, this event in Israelite history assures us that we would be naïve to believe that our actions have no consequences. Sometimes our actions affect the people we love or people we have been given charge over. The good news for us today is that through Christ, God always acknowledges confession and repentance of the heart. When the rain stops, and the darkness lifts, the sun shines brighter than the eyes can behold.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Ps 23:5

1Samuel 4:1b-11; Ps 87, 90 * 136; Acts 4:32 – 5:11; Luke 2:20-28

God’s Got This

Friday-June 17, 2001

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Luke 21:14, 15  So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

This is a real battlefield for me. Whenever I feel attacked, distraught, or anxious I begin building my defense; what I will do, what I will say. I assume that certain things will happen and immediately I begin to develop a plan. Not once has anything I conjured up in my head has ever played out. The adversities that we encounter in this journey often attack some vulnerability that we are not necessarily aware that we have. Immediately we want to defend our selves because up to this point things have been going well, but ours is a journey of constant renewing, continual discovery and purging of the self so that we may be more prepared for the end of these times that Christ foretells. Let’s face it if were already in our perfect state, attacks of the spirit would not effect us. But since we are not perfect, when attacks do come we owe it to our selves and to God to reflect on what is really happening and be assured that God will defend us. He will give us the words and the wisdom at the right time. Then and only then, whomever and whatever rises against the Holy Spirit will surely come to pass and the victory that is God’s will be ours also.

1Samuel 3:1-21; Ps 88 * 91,92; Acts 2:37-47; Luke 21:5-19

Discipline Of The Spirit Within

Thursday-June 16, 2011

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What choice will we make today; love for God or hate, righteousness or disobedience, life or death? Much of the discipline we choose for ourselves is often forced upon us. For example getting up at 5:30 in the morning to go to work to be sure that we arrive on time or a daily exercise schedule to help keep from gaining weight. These disciplines become habits for us and they are good habits to have but when do we choose to love, obey, and live for God? Is it perhaps once a week, month or when the moment arises by accident? We are well aware of what chaos we create for our selves if we do not discipline our life to do certain things such as going to work. We rarely attribute the chaos in our spiritual life to our lack of spiritual discipline and the peace we should be feeling during times of angst is usurped by fear and anxiety. The loss of a job or an illness may put an end to the physical but a well-disciplined spirit strengthens the soul which arises from it depth as the comforter within when the physical world around us has let us down. Let us not forget that the only thing that’s eternal is the comforter and our conscious attention to it is it’s own reward. Everything else is temporary.

Psalm 34:1  I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 

1 Samuel 2:27-36; Ps [83] or 34*85, 86; Acts 2:22-36; Luke 20:4 – 21:4

The Choice Is Ours

Wednesday-June 15, 2011

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When I read the story of Eli’s wicked sons and the prophecy against his household, the first thing I ask myself is why did Eli participate in his son’s actions (1Sam 2:29)? Of course, I am forced to catch myself from this kind of destructive thinking because when I remember my own iniquities my soul in fact trembles. No part of my today wants anything to with my troubles of yesterday except to encourage others not to follow a similar path. We know that from this event and many other examples in scripture where God’s judgment can be severe but I believe that God’s love is equally as strong and in fact greater. Discipline is part of God’s love and should be part of our lives and in raising our children. Otherwise as we have seen and no doubt experienced God will intervene. The good news in Christ is that every gift of today is another opportunity to live in God’s way and for God’s purpose and not our own or someone else’s. It is pleasing to God when we choose to continue to strive towards the eternal goal that is ahead and not return to yesterday’s disobedience.

Psalm 119:120 My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.

1Samuel 2:12-26; Ps 119:97-120*81,82; Acts 2:1-21; Luke 20:27-40

God’s Purpose Prevails

Tuesday-June 14, 2011

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To fulfill the scripture, Judas was numbered among them in order that God’s purpose would prevail. All in all Judas represents the establishment that functions in the world, and only sees what the world sees. Perhaps Judas misunderstood the expectation of the Messiah. Perhaps Judas believed that his affiliation with Jesus would bring him physical power and wealth and when it didn’t, well at least he could have wealth. Today, unlike Christ, our suffering at the hands of another doesn’t always lead to our physical death, however our emotional and spiritual well being often takes a tremendous beating. Unlike Christ we don’t know that we are going to be betrayed, nor do we know who will betray us. I believe this difficult scripture helps us understand that our life in this world and the journey we walk in Christ is occasionally met with some, who knowingly and others unknowingly hurt us and attack our spirit. The good news is that like Christ, in the same way that God redeemed him from the grave, God will redeem us, because for our sake scripture has been fulfilled and God’s purpose for us will prevail.

Acts 1:16, 17  “Friend, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus – for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

1 Samuel 1:21-2:11; Ps 78:1-39 * 78:40-72; Acts 1:15-26; Luke 20:19-26