A Man Named Jimmy – Part 2

Last week, in the first part of this creatively written story, we had the chance to meet a “city-boy” named Jimmy who wanted to be a farmer from the time he was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Jimmy bought himself a field in the middle of nowhere, got a horse and wagon, and a bushel basket full of wheat.  And he planted his wheat by throwing grain off the left side of his wagon – off the right side of his wagon – and even off the back of his wagon. And Jimmy sowed that way because he knew in his heart that, when you’re sowing seeds, you don’t have time to make sure that every seed lands in the “right place.”

Well, this week, the delightful tale continues as a sneaky neighbor, who didn’t like Jimmy tries to ruin his crop by scattering poisonous darnel seeds in his wheat field. Darnel makes you nauseous, it makes you dizzy, and it can even kill you as dead as you’ll ever die.  And, as Jimmy responds to the crisis he faces, he teaches us mighty, powerful lessons about life.

In this second part of this story, we’re challenged to think about the good people who live in our world and about all the bad people. We’re given a chance to think about people who gossip, and about God’s command to refrain from bearing false witness against others. We’re reminded that many people like to say that they don’t come to worship because churches are filled with hypocrites; but, we’re also reminded that God’s in the business of changing those hypocrites into people who do some really great things. Life’s full of surprises when God’s at work!

I truly hope that you enjoy listening to both parts of this little story that I’ve written for you. It’s always a joy to share God’s message with you in ways that invites you to think about your lives and your faith in a different way.

The Heartbeat of God

Embrace

God has a wonderful plan for your future!

I suspect that many of us come to worship and invest our time in prayer because we want to experience a sense of the divine. We long for God’s presence in our lives, and we want to live “in tune” with God’s plans. We want to know that God’s walking beside us and giving us the strength that we need each day. And, perhaps most of all, we all want to know that God’s going to be with us when we face that one, inescapable moment in time when we close our eyes and quietly slip into eternity.

But, when we travel through times when our faith’s being tested, God’s “heartbeat” can become so soft and muted that it almost seems to disappear. God’s “heartbeat” can be silenced by our busy-ness. God’s “heartbeat” can be hard to hear when we find ourselves running from place to place because we’ve tried to squeeze too many things into our already over-packed schedules. But, if we listen carefully to the words of Jesus, we can know that when it’s all said and done, we’re going to be OK. That’s what we explore in this week’s message: “The Heartbeat of God”

Julian of Norwich often listened to the “heartbeat of God” and she came away with a great and life-giving truth: “All shall be well – and all shall be well – and all manner of things shall be well.” Listen to those words today. Remember that Christ has gone before you to prepare a place where God shall wipe the tears from your eyes – and where there shall no longer be mourning and crying and pain for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Listen to the “heartbeat of God.” Open your ears as the Great Rabbi Himself, the Risen Christ, opens His arms and draws you close to His chest. All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well.

Blessings!

Have you ever asked God, “WHY?”

crying

We all face times when our faith is shaken to the core.

On some level, we expect to be blessed with good health and with healthy children when we follow God. We, often, spend time in prayer when we’re facing difficult times or when we want God to heal our bodies (or the bodies of people we know and love).  Deep inside, we might believe that it’s God’s “job” to ride onto the scene and make things better when life’ tough, and we might even be disappointed when God doesn’t do what we expect God to do. Have you ever asked God, “WHY?”

In this week’s message, “Have you ever asked God, ‘WHY?'”, we explore one of the most intriguing stories in the Bible. We read about Lazarus, a man who was ill and we read about a man whose sisters hoped Jesus would save the day. We read about a man who died, and about two sisters who uttered some of the most haunting words in the Bible: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

I suspect that we’ve all said those words in difficult times. We’ve probably all had times when we’ve shaken our fists at the sky and when we’ve pounded on the silent gates of Heaven. But, no matter how many times we ask the question “Why?” – we don’t get an answer, do we? No matter how many times we want to hear the voice from Heaven, it doesn’t come.

And Jesus knows that….

And, perhaps, when Mary and Martha ask Jesus their unanswerable question, that’s why He begins to talk with them about “What’s next?” What does it mean when Jesus tells us that struggles and illnesses and death are not going to be the end of our story? How can we find strength and courage to move through times in life when things are falling apart and when life’s not fair – by remembering that God’s still at work and that God continues to have the power to re-create and give the gift of new life?

We CAN find peace and hope in life – even when the specific details in our lives are not what we want them to be. Do not be afraid! Even though I don’t know where life’s going to take you and what kinds of challenges you’re going to face – I do know that, when it’s all said and done, you’re going to be OK.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life,” Jesus says, and the Day shall surely come when all of your “Why?-s” and “Why didn’t you?-s” will fade away. The Day is surely coming when all the great unanswered questions we have about life and death are going to pass away – and, in that Great Moment, we’ll be swept-up into the arms of the Lord who loves us and we’ll actually see God face-to-face!

Blessings!

 

“Mercy, Not Sacrifice!”

th8EXDBGHU

How has your understanding of God changed as you’ve lived and experienced more of life?

My first impressions of God, as a child, revolved around God’s goodness and willingness to give me “good stuff.” I grew into a man who embraced the idea that God’s always with me and that God’s always guiding me. I’ve grown to understand God as a God who forgives me and who carries me through tough times. And now, as I begin my journey through the back stretch of life, I’ve been drawn to understand God through the lens of Hosea 6:6 – as a God who tells me, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

In this week’s message, “I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice”, we are challenged to think about the ways that our ideas about God can change as we come to know Christ more deeply. Do we picture God sitting up in Heaven looking for a reason to throw people, who don’t make Him happy, into Hell – or do we picture God as a God who continues to love and care about us when we miss the mark? Do we picture an angry God who is looking forward to eternally punishing people who fall short of His demands – or do we picture a God who’s willing to push past the failures in our lives (and the failures in the lives of other people) for the sake of Christ? Perhaps, we understand that our relationship with God is based upon both the “bad news” (Law) and the “good news” (Gospel)?

The recording begins with a long reading about a man who was born blind (John 9:1-41). And, as you listen to this beloved story from the Bible, please remember that this is not just a story about healing – it’s a Sacred Story about a man who came to understand Jesus in a very different way as he struggled to make sense of who Jesus is.

And that’s the challenge that we all face in our spiritual journey, isn’t it? We all base our understandings of God upon our experiences in life and faith. And those understandings can be changed and transformed as we experience God’s presence in new ways, can’t they be?

Blessings!

 

God’s Taking Us to Court!

gavel

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?

Blessings!