God’s Taking Us to Court!


Have you ever thought about what would happen if God took us to court?

A lot of us believe that “good” people go to Heaven and “bad” people go to Hell. A lot of us probably picture God sitting on a great, big throne in the sky – always keeping an eye on us and making a list of “good things” and “bad things” that He sees us doing, so that He can judge our “worthiness” to enter Heaven after we die.

But, have you ever thought about the fact that God speaks to us and tries to point us in the right direction when we fly off course, right now? Have you ever thought about the fact that the Holy Bible, the “Sacred Story” of God’s journey with His people, is part of a story that’s continuing to unfold even now? We can find ourselves in the midst of the Exodus during times of dramatic change and transition. We can learn how to live with faith, in a world where God’s grace is often only sufficient for today, when we find ourselves in the “Sacred Story” of people who trusted that God would provide “manna” in the Wilderness each day. The “Sacred Story” we find in the Holy Bible is OUR story. The “Sacred Story” we find in the Bible is not just a story about historic events that happened long ago. It’s the story of OUR journey. It’s the story of OUR struggle to make sense of what it means to live our lives with faith in changing (and sometimes scary) times. The “Sacred Story” that we find in the Bible is the story of OUR continuing relationship with the Risen Christ, who came into the world to set us free from the power of sin and to raise us up to a new life.

In this week’s message, “God’s Taking Us to Court!”, we find ourselves in the midst of a courtroom. The prophet tells us that God’s taking us to court! We listen to God’s clear and pointed testimony. We hear the “Sacred Story” of God’s continuing love. And, as we are drawn into that “Sacred Story,” God challenges us to think about how we treat people who are hungry; how we respond to people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol; how we respond to the cries of refugees who are fleeing from their homes and countries to escape certain death; how we treat people who are being victimized by domestic violence, child trafficking, our inability to forgive, and “systems of power” that trap them in poverty, homelessness, fear and uncertainty.

This is a challenging message, but it’s a message that will speak to your heart. It’s a message that will remind you that YOU are a part of the “Sacred Story” that God’s been writing since the beginning of time. Perhaps, you’ll hear a Word that challenges you to be more forgiving and embracing? Perhaps, you’ll hear a Word from God that challenges the ways you think about people who are less fortunate than you are? Perhaps, God will speak to you in a different way and help you to discover a new and life-giving way to respond to the “Sacred Story” of God’s faithfulness in your own daily life?


Healed Healers


“One of the things that I’ve learned, in my own journey of faith, is that I need to remain connected to the Church when life’s good and when it isn’t. I will surely have times in my life when I speak God’s Word to other people, but I’ll also have times when I need other people to speak God’s Word to me.” ~ Pastor Wayne

Christians sometimes draw an unhelpful distinction between “darkness” and “light.” We believe and proclaim that “Jesus Christ is the Light of the World.” (John 8:12) It’s always going to be easy for us to sense God’s presence when we’re feeling particularly blessed and strong. But, we’ve all had times when we struggled because God seemed to be far away and distant during a difficult time – haven’t we? We’ve been taught to draw an unhelpful line between “darkness” and “light”; and, when we do that, what we say to ourselves, even as people of faith, can close our eyes to God’s presence and our minds to how God’s actually moving when life isn’t what we want it to be.

Did you know that Jesus began His earthly ministry in “darkness”? The Bible, in fact, is filled with many stories where God was quite active in the midst of “darkness.” What if we grasped that truth and lived into it more intentionally? How could our times of struggle be transformed if we more clearly understood that God’s not afraid to enter into “darkness” – and that God, in fact, does incredible things when all seems lost?

In this week’s message, “Healed Healers”, we’re challenged to stop believing that the darkest moments in our lives are times when God’s deserted us. We’re also challenged to see that the lessons that we learn during our darkest times in life are lessons that we can use to encourage and support other people. Our deepest wounds, as Henri Nouwen once wrote in The Wounded Healer, can be used as “tools” that bring healing into the lives of other people. Perhaps, as Christ comes into the midst of our “darkness,” He will transform us into “Healed Healers” who have the power to speak God’s Word to those who need to hear it the most?



Your Greatest Gift


We’ve just traveled through the “Season of Giving” once again.

We listen to people a little bit more carefully as Christmas approaches, and we try to be more “in tune” with people’s wishes and desires, don’t we? We spend money during the holidays because we all enjoy the look on people’s faces when we give them gifts. And, of course, we always try to identify and to purchase things that other people want or desire.

Right after John’s disciples began to follow the “Lamb of God,” Jesus asks them a very important question: “What are you seeking?” And this is a question that Jesus commonly asked people. “What are you seeking?” “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus can see that people are searching for something that they can’t always clearly identify until they’re asked to be specific. What are you seeking from God? What do you want God to do for you, right now?

In this week’s message, “Your Greatest Gift”, we listen to a familiar story in a different way. We’ve all been taught to be “good consumers.” We’ve all learned to be satisfied by things in life – and even in our spiritual lives – that can offer instant gratification. Some people even drift from church to church to church looking for their next meal (what they think will satisfy them, at least until they find something a bit better). Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we can find ourselves so focused upon satisfying our momentary thirst that we never allow God to draw us into the depths of “living water.” (John 4:10)

“Your Greatest Gift” is your life and your witness to Jesus Christ. The greatest gift that you can offer another person is a warm and embracing invitation that can open doors, and that can point people toward a God who walks with us through all of the ups and downs of life, and who has even promised to lift us up when we die. And that’s big!



Living into Your Destiny!


I suspect that we’ve all thought about our “purpose in life.”

The Bible tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) We read in that same psalm: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; and in your books were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me.”

God has created us with a purpose and with a destiny in mind! You might even say that our lives and our journeys of faith are an adventure – where we somehow try to make sense of what is means to be created by God and to be touched by the Holy Spirit. That’s what this week’s message, “Living into Your Destiny!”, is all about.

As we listen to a story about Jesus being washed by John the Baptizer, we’re magically transported through time, and we are taken back to the time and place where we were washed – in the waters of Holy Baptism – and to the time and place where we were touched, just like Jesus was, by the Spirit of God.

The Bible tells us that the Spirit of God moved over the waters in the midst of unfolding Creation, and touched God’s people on the day of Pentecost. The Bible tells us that the Spirit of God “blows wherever it wants to blow” (John 3:8) and that the Spirit of God will touch whoever God wants to touch. And God touched YOU…! You have been filled with the same Spirit of God that descended upon Jesus, and you have been touched by the same Spirit of God that drove Jesus into the world to fight the forces of evil and to proclaim the dawning of the Reign of God.

What does that mean?

Perhaps, your deepest calling in life is to discover what God created you to be? Perhaps, your deepest calling in life is to discover what it means to a representative of the Reign of God in a world where many folks believe that everything’s just falling apart?



Be a Star!


Most of us are probably familiar with the story of the Wise Men.

We picture a band of weary travelers slowly moving through the desert – following a star to Bethlehem. We don’t know how many Wise Men actually visited the holy Christ-child, but Church Tradition teaches us that there were three; and Tradition also teaches us that their names were Balthasar, Jasper, and Melchior. We do know that the Wise Men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh – at least according to the story we find in the Gospel of Matthew. We also know that the Wise Men visited with King Herod before they went to Bethlehem; and then, they simply disappeared – returning to their homes by a different route. (Matthew 2:12)

We suspect that the Wise Men were ancient astrologers. But, perhaps, one of the most important insights we can gain from the Biblical story of the Wise Men is that they didn’t know how to get to Jesus. The Wise Men needed a star to point them toward Jesus because even “smart” people can’t find their way to Jesus all by themselves!

We need to realize that many people are dwelling in darkness as we enter 2017. We can’t listen to the news or pick up our Smartphones without being reminded that violence and darkness are all around us. Many young parents are concerned about the future that their kids are going to face. People need something that can carry them through all of the ups and downs of life, something that can restore their hope, and something that can help them to rediscover a sense of peace in crazy times. People need Jesus.

In this week’s message, “Be a Star!”, we’re challenged to recommit ourselves to being a “Star” that points other people toward Jesus in 2017. We point other people toward Jesus when we love them. We point other people toward Jesus when we forgive them and release the festering anger that we’re holding inside of us. We point others toward Jesus when we lift-up what’s “good” inside of people and look past what isn’t so “good.” We point other people toward Jesus when we lovingly give them things that they may not always deserve – because that’s what makes darkness go away, isn’t it?

As we enter 2017, God is challenging us to become more intentional about the ways that we share the story of our own encounter with Jesus with other people. God’s challenging us to commit ourselves to the task of lifting-up what’s good and whole in the lives of others, and to the task of learning to let go of the things that disappoint us.

Be a star!

As Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good words and glorify your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Happy New Year!