Holy Moments – Holy Lives

End of World

Our lives consist of many moments when ordinary life and the sacred connect.

Many Christians live their lives awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. We see nations rising against nations. We hear about earthquakes and famines and fatal illnesses and disease. This morning, I learned that the government of China has begun to arrest Muslims and remove them from society. We hear about children shooting each other in our schools. We see world leaders rattling their sabers in an effort in intimidate each other. I’ve even noticed that every time something happens, like a “Blood Moon,” people start saying that this is yet another “sign” that the End is near. And it all simply wears me out….

John the Baptizer proclaimed that the Kingdom of God is near to us. Reza Aslan, who wrote the book Zealot got it right when he said that the message of John the Baptizer was carried forward by a much more famous man named Jesus. In a world that’s filled with nations rising against nations, the Kingdom of God is near. In a world filled with bad news about earthquakes, famines, diseases and school shootings, the Kingdom of God is near. When your life is filled with abundant blessings, the Kingdom of God is near. And, the Kingdom of God is near when you climb out of bed, when you kiss someone that you love, when you’re afraid that you’re going to flunk a test, or when you lose someone who was dear to you.

Our lives consist of many moments when ordinary life and the sacred connect.

What would life look like if, instead of waiting around for Jesus to return, we went out into the world to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near? Maybe, realizing that God journeys with us each day, we could bear witness to the fact that the Kingdom of God is near by buying a child, whose family is struggling to make ends meet, a new winter coat – or maybe, we could proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near by visiting people and sending them encouraging messages when life is hard? Maybe we could proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near by not running away and hiding from people when we know that they need our help now more than ever? Maybe we could try harder to speak-out on behalf of people in our world who aren’t being heard by people who look at them as nothing more than a drain on society? Maybe, especially at the holidays approach, we could tell other people that the Kingdom of God is near by carrying light and love into dark places where people are grieving, fighting diseases, trying to escape from abusive relationships or fighting a battle with some kind of substance that’s taken over their lives?

One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned in my journey of faith is that every moment that I live is a “holy moment” when the Kingdom of God is near. And in those “holy moments,” God prepares me to go out into the world and tell other people about God’s love and to remind them that the Kingdom of God is near in every moment of their lives, too.

You see, it doesn’t really matter what day, or month, or year Jesus returns. It doesn’t matter if the End arrives before I have a chance to post this message, or if the End comes long after I’m dead and buried.

What matters is that I have the wonderful opportunity to live a life that’s full of times when God is near. What matters is that, in the “holy moments” when the Kingdom of God is near to me, God always points me back to people who believe that things are so bad in their lives that the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.

When we realize that the Kingdom of God is near and that each moment of our lives is a “sacred time” when God is close to us, our walk of faith becomes more about learning to live faithfully in a world that can be pretty scary, rather than about waiting for some Day when Jesus will return to fix everything. When we realize that our lives are filled with “sacred moments” when the Kingdom of God is near, we have something to share with people – when their lives are going well and when their lives are falling apart.

Click Here for This Week’s Message

Seeing Who You Really Are

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John 6:35, 41-51

When was the last time you looked at your own reflection in a pool of water?

You and I are signs that can open the windows of Heaven and point other people toward Jesus. We can point people toward Jesus by treating them with love and respect, and we can point people toward the “Bread of Life” by participating in the ministry of a Christian congregation. But, we don’t always see ourselves as “signs” that can point people to Jesus, do we? That’s something that I struggle with, too.

Jesus once had an interesting confrontation with people in Capernaum. He had just fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two little fish. He had just finished telling the people that they hadn’t come to see Him because of the “signs” that He had done. In fact, according to Jesus, the people had only come to see Him because they had just had their bellies filled with the bread and fish. And right after Jesus had told the people this truth, He told them that He’s the “Bread of Life” – the one, lasting thing that satisfies the deepest needs in our daily lives.

And people shouted, “Who does this guy think that he is?” “Didn’t we know this guy when he was just a little kid, and don’t we know this man’s father and mother..?” “How can this son of Joseph, an ordinary guy, do the “works of God” and be what we need the most?”

This is the all-too-real dilemma that we face in: “Seeing Who You Really Are”.

What makes me, the son of Robert and Lois, worthy to stand in a pulpit and to preach a sermon? What makes YOU, the son or daughter of your own ordinary parents, qualified to teach a Sunday School class, or serve on a Church Council, or express your opinions during a meeting at the church you attend? What is it that makes YOU, a son or daughter of your own ordinary parents, qualified to do God’s work?
Jesus has something to say about that.

Jesus says you’re qualified to do God’s work because, when you do God’s work, it’s God who is working within you. In John 6:35, 41-51, Jesus reminds us that we’re qualified to join hands with others in Christian ministry – not because of our lineage or background; but rather, because God touched us in the waters of Baptism and because God continues to reminds us of “who we are” every time we gaze into a pool of quiet water and reflect upon the day of our Baptism.

This week’s message, “Seeing Who You Really Are”, ends by drawing you into an ancient Indian myth that tells the story of mighty Symba, King Kimbalu and their little cub. It’s a message that challenges you to gaze into the still waters of Holy Baptism until you begin to more clearly see who you are, and until you begin to feel a great, primal ROOOOAAAR erupt within you. This is a life-changing message that you need to both hear and to share with others! It’s a message that might help you to discover the identity of the person that God has created you to be, and that might help you to more clearly see what God wants you to do as you live your daily life in a world where you have the chance to point other people to Jesus.

Living in the Legacy of Jesus

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Have you ever thought about the purpose and the meaning of your life?

The Bible presents the story of a God who’s at work to topple the forces of evil. The Sacred Story tells us that God created the world by bringing order to chaos, but it also tells us that everything fell apart in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate fruit from the “Tree of the Awareness of Duality.” The Sacred Story reminds us that people have struggled since the beginning of time to “get right with God,” but it also tells us that the path to peace with God has been provided by Jesus. God is going to win! The Sacred Story tells us about a Great Day when God’s going to wipe every tear from our eyes, and when there will no longer be pain and sorrow and mourning. And the great “Hero” of the Sacred Story is Jesus. Jesus – the great “Hero” – rises-up to confront what’s wrong with the Creation and to conquer the forces of evil, so that good will ultimately win.

You and I, and all of the people who have been bound to Jesus – the “Hero” – in the waters of Holy Baptism are engaged in the Great Epic Battle. You and I, and all of the people who have been bound to Jesus in the waters of Baptism, are called and summoned to step-up to the plate, to directly engage the forces of evil and to overcome it in the name of God. And our participation in that Great Epic Battle – the ongoing war between good and evil – is ultimately what provides meaning in our lives and the purpose of our ministries.

“Living in the Legacy of Jesus” is a message that’s been created to stir you and to call the Church, as a whole, into action. We live in an Age where increasingly large numbers of people are struggling with an addiction to opioids, and when a growing sadness in many hearts is driving people to suicide. We live in an Age where poverty creates a situation where nearly half of the children in America go to school with an empty stomach – and lose an important meal every day during their summer vacation. We’re living in an Age where racism and bigotry have been revealed as the Achilles’ heel of American culture. We live in an Age where countless boundaries and barriers and walls are being created, and where people are being encouraged to experience life as “Us versus Them.”

As we fight the epic battle against duality – following Jesus, the “Hero” – we write a story that not only tells the story of our lives, but that also tells the world how we make sense of what it means to live in the legacy of Jesus. As we fight the epic battle against duality, the story we write is used by God to stir-up and create faith in others.

The story that we write helps people to understand what God’s doing in the world today. The story that we write is also one that invites others to join hands with us – so that, they can also be a part of what God’s doing.

You and I, and all of the people who have been bound to Jesus – the “Hero” – in the waters of Holy Baptism are called to engage the forces of evil, and to overcome them (with God’s help) in the name of everything that is good and right and holy and true.

“Living in the Legacy of Jesus” – by participating in the epic battle against duality is, ultimately, something that gives meaning to our lives, and provides a purpose and a “calling” to the ministry of the Church. And as we write the story of what God’s doing in our midst and in the midst of our churches, as we celebrate our victories and learn from our mistakes, and as we tell others about what God’s doing, ministry becomes magnetic – and people see that we have something both significant and life-giving to share with the world – as we invite them to be a part of what we’re doing with the help of God.

Visit my new Podcast!

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Please note that I’ve added a new menu item to the homepage of The ExploraStory Café to take you to my new podcast entitled: RealStory.

I hope that this new bi-weekly podcast will help you to understand the relationship that people are seeing between their daily lives and their faith-journey, and that it will help you to more deeply reflect upon your own relationship with Jesus Christ.

Each episode will contain a short interview where someone is invited to share a story and to reflect upon what he/she learned about life and faith while journeying through the event(s) that are described.

You can learn more about RealStory by clicking here.

And please don’t forget to follow the podcast by clicking the link that I have provided, so that you get new episodes of the podcast as they become available. This podcast will also be helpful to your friends and family members – so be sure to tell them about it, too.

Where Life and Faith Meet

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Let me ask you a question….

What is it, in your life of faith, that leaves other people feeling amazed and perplexed?

On the surface, that might seem to be an unusual question. Many of us believe that our faith and our relationship with Christ are a private matter. We’ve all been taught that, if we want to avoid controversy in our lives, we need to learn to avoid the topics of religion and politics in daily conversations. And yet, Christ calls us to be His witnesses. The story of Pentecost is a story where people were amazed and perplexed by what they saw other people doing. And so, perhaps the question – “What is it, in your life and faith, that leaves other people feeling amazed and perplexed?” – is one that we need to consider.

The Day of Pentecost started-out like most other days. Roosters had been crowing to announce the beginning of the day. Little children were jumping out of their beds and were getting ready to play. People had begun to come out of their homes and loud voices could be heard in the streets. And then, a rushing wind sent people scrambling. The Sacred Story tells us about “fire-tongues” falling from the sky and landing on people’s heads. We hear about the disciples speaking in languages that they didn’t know. And the whole thing, according to Acts 2:7, left people feeling both amazed and perplexed.

Let me ask you again….

What is it, in your life of faith, that leaves other people feeling amazed and perplexed?

“Where Faith and Life Meet” is a message that challenges us to think about that, and that encourages us to think about how the Holy Spirit is working in our lives. Can we see the Holy Spirit at work in the Church when people who disagree with each other continue to gather together, sing songs, and share a Meal with each other – in times of division and deep separations? That, if you think about it, is both amazing and perplexing. People are amazed and perplexed when we refrain from judging them and criticizing them because they don’t live their lives in the way that we choose to live ours. People are amazed and perplexed when we forgive them and allow relationships to continue after we’ve been hurt and disappointed. People are amazed and perplexed when they see us welcoming and embracing them – no matter who they are or where they’ve been in life – because we know that God created them to be precious, valuable, and worthy of love.

The Sacred Story reminds us that, when the Holy Spirit works in our midst, things that we do will leave people both amazed and perplexed.

And so, I ask you, once again: “What is it, in your life of faith, that leaves other people feeling amazed and perplexed?” Take a moment to stop and to listen to what God’s telling you. Think about how the Holy Spirit is already working in your life to do amazing things. Think and pray for a moment about how God may be challenging you to do things that other people may not fully understand, but that they will deeply appreciate and see as a sign of what God’s doing in our world right now.

 

Love Each Other!

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I believe that God’s placed us on the earth to learn how to love.

We live in a world where life’s not easy for anyone. The Sacred Story reminds us that God has given us the gift of each other, so that nobody has to travel through life alone. And it’s love that makes that possible.

We’ve all been taught to think about Jesus and even about the ministry of the Church in certain ways, and it’s hard for us to change the ways that we think. We’ve all grown-up believing certain things about other people, and it takes time for us to dig deep and to be honest with ourselves – and it can take even longer for God to change the ways that we think about life and the world, and bring healing.

We take the sin in other people’s lives quite seriously and minimize the importance of the sin in our own lives; and, sometimes, that keeps us from being “Christ’s Church for All People.” We struggle with packed schedules and endless lists of commitments; and, sometimes, that keeps us from listening to each other and from caring in the ways that we could. Renewal takes time because renewal is something that challenges our cultures. And, when we gather in Christ’s presence, Jesus nudges us and challenges us and even confronts us in, of all things, a Meal.

In this week’s message, “Love Each Other!”, Jesus speaks to us and tells us to love each other in the same way that Jesus has loved us. The love of Jesus continues to challenge us to live-well with each other when we agree with each other and when we don’t. The love of Jesus calls us to gather together for a Meal – where Jesus comes to be with us and to bind us together as His people in the world today. The love of Jesus continues to remind us that people – both inside and outside of the walls of Church buildings – need to hear about God’s love and embrace. The love of Jesus challenges us to cry-out for justice and peace, and to tell people that the world doesn’t have to be what we see right now because God has the power to change it.

As Jesus calls us to “Love Each Other!” and as we share Holy Communion, Christ’s love binds us to each other in ways that remind us that God’s placed us in this world to take care of each other, to work with each other, and to stand beside each other through thick and thin. And, as we capture that truth today and as we build all that we’re doing around it, “Christ’s Church for All People” becomes a “Beacon of Light” for the world – and people both inside and outside of the Church’s brick walls experience the love and transforming power of Jesus. And God’s Spirit ignites hearts with passion and determination. The Holy Spirit lives and moves, and brings growth and renewal to the Church. And the seeds that God has given to us to sow begin to sprout and to grow and to become signs of what God continues to do with people, just like us, in the world today.

“Love Each Other!”

Share your lives with each other. Celebrate your hopes and dreams with each other, and stand together when life gets tough. “This is my commandment,” Jesus says, “that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) That’s our mission as both individuals and as “Christ’s Church for All People.”

I continue to believe that God has put us on the earth to learn how to love – spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people – and freely serving others in a world that needs to see the power of God at work in the lives of God’s people.

 

What Comes After Easter?

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What’s Next?

The Sacred Story of our faith has carried us through the Season of Lent and to another celebration of Easter. We’ve explored 5 Faith Practices that can strengthen our lives of faith, build-up our families, help us raise faith-filled children and grandchildren, and even strengthen our ministry as a church. We were challenged to reflect upon Christ’s call to love each other and to live-well with each other on Maundy Thursday, and we explored what it means to love and extend compassion as we gathered in the dark shadow of the Cross on Good Friday. And then, on Easter, we witnessed the dramatic collision of grief and hope, and we were reminded that we are the carriers of a Sacred Story that has the life-giving power to change people’s lives and to shape the future of our world.

And now, we find ourselves standing in a very different part of the Sacred Story.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [the body of Jesus.] And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the Tomb.” (Mark 16:1-2) The women who went to the Tomb had heavy hearts and grave concerns about the future. Life hadn’t unfolded in the way that they had expected, and there were many reasons to be afraid. And, when they got to the Tomb, the women experienced the totally unexpected. Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead! The empty Tomb stood as a clear sign that our God doesn’t remain silent in a world where the raging rivers of life sweep people away. And we can still celebrate that fact on Easter. We can still celebrate the fact that we have a God who comes into the world to shatter the darkness and to bring life-giving Light once again.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome could have walked away from the Tomb and said nothing. They could have very easily said to each other, “Wow! What we just witnessed is incredible, and it’s something that fills our hearts with faith!” They could have returned to their homes and families, to their friends and acquaintances, and to the places where they lived and worked without saying a word. And the Sacred Story may have ended right then and there. One of the most important things that we need to remember in the days and weeks after Easter is that, if people hadn’t continued to share the Sacred Story with each other, Easter would probably be just another ordinary day of the year—much like any other day.

What’s Next?

We live in world where Easter just IS another ordinary day of the year for many people. Easter’s a day when little children hunt for Easter eggs and eat chocolate, and it’s a day when people peel foil-covered chocolate eggs and eat yellow peeps. We live in a world filled with people who rush to the Easter buffet to get ahead of the “Church crowd,” and where schools coincidentally schedule “Spring Break” at Easter. And in that same world, we’re stunned by violence and bullying. We continue to be shocked by incidents of road rage and to be stunned by the shooting of innocent students in our public schools. We don’t always speak to each other in helpful ways, and we often walk away from people who don’t think about life in the same ways that we do. And, ironically, the Sacred Story tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised by any of that…. The Sacred Story continues to point us toward the fact that mere human beings don’t have the power to transform our world into the place that God created it to be. Secular humanism has clearly failed – and humanity’s best route forward continues to be found in an ongoing process of death and resurrection.

We have a mighty task before us as carriers of the Sacred Story.

God continues to call us to live-well with each other, to encourage each other, to forgive each other, to build each other up, and to spur each other on. Christ continues to call us to interpret our lives through the lens of the story of God’s love, and Christ continues to draw us together into a community of love where He nourishes us. Christ continues to call us to share the Sacred Story of God’s welcome, love and warm embrace in a world where people continue to divide themselves into smaller and smaller groups. Christ is a Risen Lord who continues to call us to serve each other, to surround those who struggle with our warm embrace, to feed the hungry, to spend some time with the lonely, to help people who are struggling with illnesses that we don’t fully understand, and to be a voice for those who have no voice in a world that’s content to simply leave them in the dust.

What’s Next?

St. James once wrote: “Be doers of the word, and not just hearers only” (James 1:22); and, I believe, that that’s the great mission that’s set before those who see themselves as Easter people. The Sacred Story reminds us that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome could have walked away from the Tomb and said nothing—but they didn’t do that because they knew that they had something important to share with the world. The women who came to the Tomb on that first Easter morning could have easily said, “Wow! What we just witnessed is incredible, and it’s something that fills our hearts with faith!” And then, they could have returned to their homes and families, to their friends and acquaintances, and to the places where they lived and worked without saying a word. And the Sacred Story may have ended right then and there.

How will you be changed by the Sacred Story’s proclamation of Christ’s victory?

We live in a world filled with little children who are being taught that hunting for colored eggs, eating chocolate, peeling foil-covered chocolate eggs and biting the heads off yellow peeps is what Easter is all about. We live in a world filled with children who are being taught that they need to rush to the Easter buffet, so that they can get ahead of the “Church crowd”—and we’re teaching those same little children that Easter is nothing more than an excuse for a “Spring Break.”

Will we, as God’s people, allow that trend to simply continue unchallenged, or will we continue to understand that we are the carriers of a Sacred Story that speaks of hope and new life in the face of life’s great unanswered questions?

What’s Next?

Serving Others – Following the Example of Jesus

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Life’s taught me that discipleship is not for the faith-of-heart.

I’ve had times in my life when I was so focused upon prayer and contemplation that my journey of faith began to turn inward. When I was in seminary, I always wanted to take a course on spirituality, so that I could somehow become a bit more “spiritual” – but I didn’t find the magic pill. I have moved through periods in life where I’ve consumed everything that people offered to me to help me grow as a Christian and I always went away craving more. I’ve also learned that it’s safe to do ministry from a distance. I’ve sponsored several children through Compassion International. I’ve sent money to Pittsburgh Fisher House. I’ve dumped hundreds of cans of food into boxes at my church – knowing that those cans would be delivered to a local food bank by somebody else. I can’t even begin to count the number of struggling people that I’ve tried to comfort by telling them that they’re in “my thoughts and prayers” while standing at a safe distance from their struggles and pain.

Jesus once had an interesting conversation with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a powerful man and a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus spent his entire life studying the Old Testament and trying to follow the “Rules of God” which had grown from a list of ten clear commandments into scrolls filled with thousands of rules. But Nicodemus was also fascinated by Jesus. And so, one night, Nicodemus came to Jesus because he wanted to talk with Him. And Jesus began to talk with Nicodemus about being “born again.” And in that story, we find what’s probably the best-known verse in the entire Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) And, in that great verse, we find an important key to ministry in the world today!

In this week’s message, “Serving Others – Following the Example of Jesus”, we remember that how we think about God shapes the way we think about ministry.

Many of us believe that God’s presence is found in a church building and that folks need to come to that church building if they want to encounter God and grow as a Christian – and when we think in that particular way we almost transform our church buildings into a Jewish “Holy of Holies.” Many Christians believe that the Church’s best-route-forward in swiftly changing times is still going to be discovered when we find new and innovative ways to get more people to come into our church buildings during a particular time of the week (that we, of course, have chosen for ourselves).

But, in the story of Nicodemus, we’re reminded that God didn’t sit up in Heaven waiting for people to come to Him. God became “incarnate.” The Christian faith is built around the idea that God came into the world to meet us where we live and spend our time and raise our kids. And so, if we truly want to serve others – following the example of Jesus – doesn’t it make sense that our ministry must also be one that reaches-out to people in the places where they live and spend their time and raise their kids, too?

What would the ministry of Christ’s Church look like if we moved past the idea that our primary goal in ministry is to get more people to come into our buildings?

Can you imagine Christians studying the Bible with each other in their homes, and very intentionally creating safe places where people who don’t want to come into our church buildings can gather to talk about God and pray with each other? Imagine Christians going into their communities and forging new relationships with groups of parents who are just as concerned about helping young people to grow into healthy adults as we are. What would our ministries look like if we pictured our church buildings simply as places where people could come to be welcomed and embraced, to be heard and to be cared for, to worship and pray in a place filled with love and acceptance, and to be equipped and empowered to do what God’s calling them to do outside of the church building?

Life’s taught me that discipleship is not for the faint-of-heart. And life’s, also, taught me that “Serving Others – Following the Example of Jesus” is something that will always call us to move beyond the safety of “spiritual practices” and the walls of church buildings.

What would happen if we began to see that ministry isn’t just about struggling to find new and innovative ways to get people to come into our church buildings? What would happen if we began to understand Christian ministry more incarnationally and followed the example of Jesus more intentionally – going-out into the world to meet people where they live and spend their time and raise their kids?

Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ

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I’ve always enjoyed sharing Good News with other people.

Good news can bring a smile to people’s faces and it can help people to see that life’s still good in tough times. Good news encourages people, builds people up, and brings comfort to those who are struggling. And yet, America’s filled with more and more people who do not want to hear the message of Good News that Christians bring to the world. America is filled with many people who don’t want to have anything do to with the Church. And that is a harsh reality that we face in:  “Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ”

The Temple of Jerusalem was divided into three distinct parts in the time of Jesus. There was a “Holy of Holies” – reserved for the High Priest. There was an area surrounding the “Holy of Holies” where the Jews could worship. And then, there was an outside area that existed because, according to Isaiah 56:7, the Temple in Jerusalem was originally built to be a “house of prayer for all people.” People who weren’t Jewish were still welcome in the Temple and they could worship in this outside area. But a problem was created when the Jews began to use this “outside area” as a place to sell animals and to exchange coins. And, when Jesus arrived at the Temple, He was horrified by the fact that the “business as usual” in the Temple was interfering with the Temple’s ability to be the “house of prayer for all people.”

We have a life-giving message of Good News and a wonderful message of God’s love and embrace to share with the world; but, sometimes, our “business as usual” in the Church can keep us from being Christ’s Church for all people. The Good News of Jesus Christ can become hidden when people in the Church aren’t living well with each other, and that’s why many people don’t want to have anything to do with the Church. The Good News of God’s welcome and embrace can become hidden when “the way that we want people to do things” becomes more important than the fact that we want people to be a part of what God’s doing in our midst. The Good News of God’s forgiveness can become hidden when Christians refuse to forgive each other and release the things in life that have hurt them. The Good News of Jesus Christ can become veiled in a cloud when our “business as usual” in the Church becomes more important than what we are doing to proclaim God’s love and embrace.

When Jesus got to the Temple, He found people doing what people had always done at the Temple during Passover. They were selling animals. They were selling sacrificial doves to the poor. They were exchanging Roman coins for coins that could be used in the Temple. And, as they did their “business as usual,” the part of the Temple in Jerusalem that was designed to be a place where people who weren’t Jewish could gather for worship disappeared and the Temple began to lose a sense of being a “house of prayer for all people.”

And that’s something that we need to think about in the Church today.

How does our “business as usual” interfere with our ability to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world today? How does our “business as usual” create a barrier that keeps people from experiencing God’s presence in our houses of worship today? How does our “business as usual” keep people from more-fully participating in ministry, and using gifts and talents to glorify God?

Perhaps this Lent, as the Living Christ continues to move in our midst, we can hear God’s call to move past our “business as usual” in the Church, so that all of God’s people will be able to more deeply sense that the place where we worship is a “house of prayer for all people” where all who gather can experience God’s presence and hear a word of Good News.

 

Pointing Others Toward Jesus

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Do you find it difficult to share your faith with other people?

We’ve been raised in a culture where we’ve been told that we should avoid talking about religion and politics. Many of us have been encouraged to believe that faith is a personal thing, and that our relationship with Christ is about “Jesus and me.” We find it difficult to pray in front of other people. We, sometimes, find it hard to talk about our faith with our spouse and our children. But what would happen if we began to focus upon the fact that a close, intimate and living relationship with Jesus is a precious gift?

Peter and James and John went up a mountain one day; and, when they got to the top of the mountain huffing and puffing and trying to catch their breath, something happened. The lights came on. Jesus began to glow. Moses and Elijah appeared out of nowhere. And, even though that experience must have been incredible, Peter and James and John didn’t realize how important that experience would be.

In a few short weeks, Jesus would be riding through the streets of Jerusalem as people shouted, “Hosanna!” A few days after that, Jesus would be arrested. And Jesus would be dragged away. Jesus would be put on trial.  Jesus would be nailed to a cross and die. And Peter and James and John would be so stunned that they’d lock themselves in a room to keep the rest of the world out.

In this week’s message, “Pointing Others Toward Jesus”, we explore one of the hardest truths we’ll ever face. We love our children and our grandchildren. We all have friends that we’d walk across a bed of hot coals to help. But, no matter how much we love our children and grandchildren, and no matter how much we care about our friends, there are going to be times when we’re not going to be able to be where we want to be.

Our children and grandchildren grow-up and move away. Friends can unexpectedly lose their jobs, or lose their homes in a fire, or lose their kids in a custody battle. Our parents and other people that we know can travel through times of lonely depression and can be given horrible news during an appointment with their doctor. I’ve journeyed with a lot of good people who have lost their spouse – or even their child – many years after their Mom and Dad were gone.

And, in those critical moments in life, I’ve seen people find great strength and courage by remembering their encounters with Jesus. People who travel through difficult times in life can find the courage and strength they need to meet the days ahead by going back in time – to moments when something lit the “candle of faith” in the center of their lives.

You have a story to share. The story of your life and your faith can help others to see that Jesus is alive and at work in their lives, too. The story you share can point others toward Jesus, and can be a source of great strength and stability in times when you’re not able to be where you want to be.

Tell your story. Plant seeds in the lives of others. Realize that you have a beautiful song that nobody else is able to sing.

Sharing your faith doesn’t have to be scary. Sharing your faith can be as simple as taking a few moments to tell someone how God was with you during a particular moment in your life. The gift of an intimate relationship with Jesus is a precious thing, and you can offer that precious gift to someone that you know and love today.