A Day of Worship

I have some colleagues that treat their day like a worship experience. When they wake up they say a call to worship. They find time in their day to pray for others. They figure out a way to offer themselves to God in some way. They open up scripture and at the very least read a commentary on it, if not listen to a sermon about it. When they eat they recall the Lord’s Supper. They say the Lord’s prayer at night, sing a song during the day and close with a prayer for rest.

Maybe you would want to start your day in the presence of God. I found this liturgy by Katherine Hawker and I thought it was beautiful. It is a lovely way to start your day and a call to worship throughout the day.

A drop of water.
Insignificant in isolation.
When dropped in a pool
The ripples move out into infinity
The water is changed
By one drop of water.

A drop is falling
Now
Into the pool of our spirit.
The water begins to ripple…

Holy God,
as we consider the magnitude of a drop of water
to touch and change the pool,
may we hear the power of your touch in our lives,
the potential for our lives to touch others. Amen.

Humor Monday

Thank you to all who helped with the tailgate. What a wonderful time of fellowship, food and fun. Some wonderful relationships were strengthened and I saw many new ones begin. So, I begin my Monday with a big smile, thanking God for the volunteers and those that were at the event. As a response to the joy, I offer a joke. Many of you have probably heard it and while I have heard it many times, it still makes me laugh. It also reminds me that there are many more of you with great leadership potential and I encourage you to seek God’s call on your life. Human beings may not see it in you, but God does.

Report from the Pastor Search Committee:

We do not have a happy report to give. We have not been able to find a
suitable candidate for this church, though we have one promising prospect.
Thank you for your suggestions. We have followed up on each one with
interviews or by calling at least three references. The following is our
confidential report.

ADAM: Good man but has problems with his wife. One reference told us how he
and his wife enjoyed walking nude in the woods.
NOAH: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic
building projects.

JOSEPH: A big thinker, but a braggart; believes in dream interpreting and
has a prison record.
MOSES: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator; even stutters at times.
Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly in business meetings. Some say he
left an earlier church over a murder charge.

DEBORAH: One word — Female.
DAVID: The most promising leader of all until we discovered the affair he
had with his neighbor’s wife.

SOLOMON: Great preacher, but serious woman problem.
ELIJAH: Prone to depression; collapses under pressure.
HOSEA: A tender and loving pastor, but our people could never handle his
wife’s occupation.

JONAH: Told us he was swallowed up by a great fish. He said the fish later
spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up.
AMOS: Too much of a country hick. Backward and unpolished. With some
seminary training, he might have promise; but he has a hang-up against
wealthy people.

JOHN: Says he is a Baptist, but doesn’t dress like one. May be too
Pentecostal. Tends to lift both hands in the air to worship when he gets
excited. You know we limit to one hand. Sleeps in the outdoors, has a weird
diet, and provokes denominational leaders.
PETER: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper, even said to have cursed. He’s a
loose cannon.

PAUL: Powerful CEO type and fascinating preacher. However, he’s short on
tact, unforgiving with young ministers, harsh, and has been known to preach
all night.
TIMOTHY: Too young.

JESUS: Has had popular times, but once when his church grew to 5000, He
managed to offend them all; and his church dwindled down to twelve people.
Seldom stays in one place very long. And, of course, he is single.
JUDAS: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good
connections. Knows how to handle money. We’re inviting him to preach this
Sunday in view of a call.

Pope Visit

I have mixed emotions about the current Catholic Pope. There are many things I have appreciated and many things I would challenge. During his trip to the United States I am saddened by the amount of security necessary and the amount of money spent on security, vehicles and all the pomp and circumstance. Would Jesus have wanted such security? But I was heartened by a moment in Cuba. A protester came out of the stands to protest the treatment in Cuba. As authorities rushed to whisk him away, the Pope called him over. He was blessing him and looked genuinely concerned over the man. I was reminded of the moment when Jesus’ disciples pulled children away from him and he rebuked them saying, “Let the children come unto me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Then after only a few moments, the man was man handled away from the Pope and probably brought to jail. The Pope seemed to not know what to do. He tried to hold the man but the security guards were too strong. Both the man and the Pope looked dejected and for a moment the Pope didnt know what to do. Then he gathered himself, smiled and waved at the crowd again. With all of the glory and all of the holiness given to the pope by the millions and millions of admirers, that moment reminded me that he is just a man. Sure, he is a man of power and prestige and probably a lot of faith, but he is but a man. We are all simply humans in need of a Savior. I thank God for those who try to represent Christ to the world and even though we are imperfect, I believe God can still use us to share a message of peace, hope, joy and love to the world. Each of us, from the highest papal authority to the new person just stepping foot in a church can represent Christ to the world. So, today, I pray for the Pope. May the light of Christ shine even through the massive security Guards, pope mobile and limousines. I believe God will!

Rain Rain…STAY!

The weather lately has been FANTASTIC. In fact, I think there should be a law that in the northern states, when the weather is 80-85 and sunny there can be no work. We all should be forced to be outside.

I have noticed many people talking about the weather. They are smiling, saying how fantastic it is and seem genuinely happy. However, it wasn’t long ago that the same people were moping around and griping about the rain and cold that we were having. They seemed depressed and nobody seemed to like the weather.

It was during these cold rainy days that I remember driving home, lights on at 3pm because of the clouds and rain and seeing three little children in galoshes and rain coats splashing around in the puddles, laughing and running and filled with so much joy.

Christ offer us joy. This is joy that is available in the sunny days of life and when it seems there is a cloud over us. Seek Him for this joy and you can put on your rain coat of faith and laugh and sing and dance even when it pours!

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Life Cycle

At this time of year I am always fascinated at the life cycle of the plants in my garden. I am especially intrigued at watching the perennials. In the Spring new buds arise, they begin to sprout back out of the ground growing and gaining strength. During the summer, there are blooms and fruits which beautify the garden and attract bees and butterflies and birds. During the Fall, the plants begin to put energy into the roots to prepare for the winter while the fruits and flowers are beginning to seed to create new plants next year. I know some of the plants will not make it through the winter as they were too old, were not able to strengthen their roots enough of the weather or creatures killed them.

Our faith journey is very much like the plant cycle. Where are you on your journey?

SPRING – is your faith new and exciting? Are you just growing into the potential God has for you? However, maybe you are a bit fragile and you can be discouraged or distracted easily?

SUMMER – Is your discipleship blooming and fruiting? Are you doing good things for Christ? What are you sharing? What gifts are you offering? Maybe you are becoming strong in your branches and really strengthening for the long journey of life and faith.

FALL – Are you seeding? Are the fruits of your labors ready to grow and take life? Are you becoming tired and need to put energy back into the roots of your faith journey? Is your faith dying and you are simply withering away?

Understanding where you are in your faith journey will allow you to assess and begin to address your journey with Christ. I know there are times when I am tired and need to focus on my roots. I understand that there are times when I am weak and fragile but I am growing. I seek to live as long as I can in the Summer of my discipleship. I seek to grow fruits and flowers. I want to make a difference for God and for others. As Christ walks through my garden of faith may He find sweet fruits and flowers and may my life be pleasing unto Him.

6-7 Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’

8-9 “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’” Luke 13:6-9 (The Message)

Sharing a Devotion

I received this from Pastor Terry today and wanted to share it with you. Thank you PT.

Sunday, 9/20/2015

“O Master, Let Me Walk with You,” ELW 818

O Master, let me walk with you
in lowly paths of service true;
tell me your secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
by some clear, winning word of love;
teach me the wayward feet to stay,
and guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me your patience; share with me
a closer, dearer company,
in work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
in trust that triumphs over wrong,

In hope that sends a shining ray
far down the future’s broad’ning way,
in peace that only you can give;
with you, O Master, let me live.

I return to my earlier theme (from Friday) of leadership, in the gospel sense: what does it mean to follow Jesus? (For this is what, as a leader in the church, one does.) The path of following Jesus in leadership is not an easy one. We indeed need Jesus’ help to “bear the strain of toil, the fret of care” (v. 1). The ultimate word of gospel, which this hymn gives, and which I leave you with on my last installment, is that we do not go alone. Jesus walks with us on this journey–upholding us, teaching us, helping us, sharing with us (all of the imperatives that we see in this hymn). There is no way that this could happen if Jesus weren’t there beside us in what we do, and it is only through His enduring presence that we can find the strength to face the world each day. “With you, O Master, let me live” (v. 4).

Journeying God, as we move on the journeys of life and of mission, be with us, guide us, and lead us. We know that we can do nothing without your presence holding us up from the inside and from the outside. Continue to walk with your church. Continue to uphold all of those in ministry and mission. Continue to move those who are seeking. Journey with us, O God, that we may find “the homeward way” (v. 2), following in the path laid before us by Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Jacob Burkman
Hope Lutheran Church, Riverside, Calif.
Master of Divinity, 2011

Philippians

Philippians 4 has always been a “go to” text for me when I need encouragement.  The clarity that is offered is remarkable.  If I am having trouble with decisions or feeling down or just plain discouraged, this text has always helped me focus back to what is important.  May it be a blessing to you today!

4 1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Exhortations

2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I do what I want

I had a player that I coach that had major issues following directions and listening to advice.  He thought he knew everything.  Even when he got it wrong, he thought he was right.  His famous line was “I do what I want.”  It was a struggle to coach him for sure.

To be wise you must first have reverence for the LORD. If you know the Holy One, you have understanding. – Proverbs 9:10

While most of us are not living life to that extreme, we do very often rely on ourselves and our own volition rather than seeking help from others.  We are too proud or too egotistical to seek outside help or knowledge.  The passage from Proverbs is a very simple reminder for us to look beyond ourselves and be humble before God.  With that will come understanding and wisdom.  These attributes then will bring you peace and hope.  Why would we look anywhere but to the Lord for our guidance in life?

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness! – Matthew 6:33

This is the day

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.  – Psalm 118:24

I remember singing a song about Psalm 118 in Sunday school.  Do you know it?  I apologize now to all of those who know it and will not be able to get it out of your head for the rest of the day.  It is 7:30 am and I have sung it twenty times already.

This is the day (this is the day)

That the Lord has made (that the Lord has made)

Let us rejoice (let us rejoice) 

and be glad in it (and be glad in it).

As a child I never knew that I was singing a Psalm.  However, I remember the words “and be glad in it.”  Simple yet powerful.  Are you glad in the day?  There are many reasons to be glad.  First, it is, as the first line suggests something created by God and thus a gift that we live in.  Second, we can place the Psalm in the rest of the Scriptures and remember that what God creates is good.  Third, as we continue to remember the Psalm in the midst of the Sciptures we understand that one of the reasons that we should rejoice is because we are given salvation because of Christ.  Fourth, being glad is much more fun than being upset or sad.

What is most interesting to me about all of this is that the first three facts do not change.  Every day is a day that the Lord has made and is a gift and filled with blessings and offers us life, new life and salvation.  The only variable is our reaction.  How will YOU respond today?  Will you be glad or sad?  What will your response to God be today?

Love One Another

Last week when my wife and I were out in Geneva for our anniverary I was people watching.  It really struck me how different people are.   We are all so unique and each of us made to not be like the others.  I know, I know…a major discovery there.  But, the beauty of God is that though we are different in so many ways there is one great way to be united and that is through our love of our Creator.

John Wesley once said:  “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 says:  11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

So, let us work diligently as a faith community to love one another for who they are and find common uniting ground in our love of Jesus.