Feed us O God as you have called us to feed others with your Word.
Comfort us O God as you have called us to comfort others with the Good News. Speak to us O God as you have called us to speak words of hope.
Heal us O God as you have called us to heal others with your amazing grace.
As we enter this time of worship may our praises be pleasing to your ears and may our hearts be filled to overflowing. May we leave our worries behind and be strengthened with your promises. We enter this place to praise you and may we leave this place doing the same. All glory and honor to you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
This whole thing about feeding others has been on my heart this week as I reflect on the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the massive fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. So many questions but only one answer will suffice…God. I don’t know many of the “whys” of this world but I do know the Good News of God through Jesus Christ. And sometimes, like a newborn baby, we simply need something as simple as “milk” ~ that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that all who believe in him may not perish but have eternal life.” So let’s not theologize (Yes…I know that is not a word but I like it) too much but rather let’s remember the basics.
God loves you!
Have a great and blessed day :)
The pastor -|—
I continue to cry out to you for those injured in yesterday’s bombing in Boston.
I continue to cry out to you for those mourning the death of loved ones.
I continue to cry out to you for the emergency workers, law enforcement personnel, doctors, nurses and all involved in providing care and security.
But through my prayers I have realized that I forgot to cry out for the person(s) responsible for this tragedy. Even though I don’t understand what was going through their minds or what is in their hearts, it seems clear to me they need some understanding of your love through Jesus Christ. Please bring healing to them. Convict their hearts. Turn them to you that they may seek to do the right thing. It is easy to be angry with them and even harbor feelings of hate towards them, but please do not let Satan gain a foothold in the midst of this tragedy. I am not relieving them of responsibly but desiring them to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Satan may have caused some damage yesterday but you O God have won THE victory through Jesus Christ.
Healing God, please continue to working healing in anyway you see that we need and may you be glorified through this.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen
The pastor -|—
In this time of confusion, fear, sadness, anger, uncertainty please make your love known to us.
Comfort those who have been directly effected by the tragedy in Boston.
Bless the emergency personnel on the scene and elsewhere helping victims.
Grant peace to those who witnessed the explosions.
For loved ones far away, wrap them in your love as they wait for news on their loved ones; struggling to be so far away during a time like this.
For those with no personal connection, we still shutter at the sight and thought of what has happened; trying to make sense of the chaos. And even though there are no answers to the “Why” question, may we find comfort and peace in the “Where” question ~ that you are with your hurting people.
Loving God, during a time where it is difficult to find the words to say please receive the groanings of our hearts and souls. May your Spirit intercede with ours. And may we rest in your love.
Bring healing in anyway you see that we need and may we have the faith to receive that healing.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior I pray.
The pastor -|—
I read a good blog post yesterday titled Distracted. It addressed a distressing distraction that has been going on this week; something that has (and is) drawing people’s attention away from what is ultimately important. Do you know what that distraction is? It’s…
…the Supreme Court discussing and considering a ruling about (so-called) same sex marriage.
And in a show of support on Facebook, people have been changing their profile pictures to a red-ish/pink-ish equal sign (meaning marriage equality). As I browsed through Facebook this week I saw a ton of those pictures and a lot of status updates defending “marriage equality”…and all of this in the midst of Holy Week.
The blog post gave kudos to Satan on his brilliant scheme to distract people from the glory of this week. And I have to agree. All of the discourse I read on Facebook was about gay marriage and condemning those who would hold a different view. I read these and I was sadden. But what saddened me even more was that as I look back on this past week I too was drawn in. My thinking was caught up in this distraction. I didn’t post anything on social media indicting my view but I was thinking about it…and being distracted.
So I am here this morning confessing my sin and repenting of my actions. This week is Holy Week. Yesterday was Maundy Thursday where we celebrated the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples and then walked to the Garden of Gethsemane to see Jesus arrested and then beaten, mocked, spit upon and tried. Today is Good Friday where we will walk to the cross and see how our Lord and Savior died to save us from our sins. He will be buried, but on the third day rise that we may have eternal life. But instead of pondering what our Lord and Savior did for us we have taken our eye off the proverbial ball.
This is Holy Week. Look to the cross. See how Jesus took OUR sin and destroyed the grip of death. See how Jesus defeated Satan and won the victory for you and for me. We are ALL sinners…worthy of punishment and condemnation, but through the grace of God we have forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Let’s keep our eye on the ball people and give glory to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
From the Heart of a Pastor -|—
On Sunday I said some words in response to the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT. It was difficult to talk about this but I knew that something had to be said. I shared the hope of Christmas, that God entered this world of suffering and overcame this world in Jesus Christ. I shared words of peace and Good News.
Following the sermon I asked my small country congregation what hymn they would like to sing next. And…without missing a beat, someone immediately said, “Hymn #781, Children of the Heavenly Father“. I had to fight back tears when I heard that. Here are the lyrics:
Children of the Heavenly Father safely in his bosom gather;
nestling bird nor star in heaven such a refuge e’er was given.
God his own doth tend and nourish, in his holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things he spares them, in his mighty arms he bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord his children sever;
unto them his grace he showth, and their sorrows all he knowth.
Though he giveth of he taketh, God his children ne’r forsaketh;
his the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy.
We are indeed his children who are wrapped in God’s loving arms. Evil, sin and death may cause havoc now, but they have ultimately been defeated through the cross.
Praise be to God!
The pastor -|—
There come times in a pastor’s ministry when a sermon needs to be scraped and completely rewritten at a moment’s notice.
Yesterday was such a time for me (and I would guess most pastors across this land).
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT has left many people in a state of confusion, sadness, fear, anger…and a list of other emotions. People have been asking that all too difficult to answer “Why?” question.
Knee-jerk responses have been offered.
Political statements have been made.
Rumors have circulated.
Theories have been postulated.
All of which have not been too helpful…but they are natural responses to a horrific event. But as a pastor, I need to respond in a different way. I need to share the light of Christ in the midst of darkness; hope in the midst hopelessness; life in the midst of death; peace in the midst of chaos; Good News in the midst of Satan’s reign of tyranny.
We can not remain silent (even though I was not planning on preaching at Salem this morning).
You see…today is Christmas program Sunday at Salem (Belmont has their program on Saturday). It’s a Sunday I usually don’t say too much because the kids “preach” the sermon. I usually only offer up a couple words at Salem (preaching a full sermon at Belmont) and that’s it.
So as I wrote yesterday afternoon I found my fingers hi-jacked by the Holy Spirit as words flew across my lap top screen. My faith was poured out into words as I reflected on the Christmas story; realizing that everything fit perfectly. I was not deviating from the message the kids shared; for this is a season of hope.
For you see…Jesus was born into our world of suffering to bring hope. Death and sin and evil do not have the last word…God does in Jesus Christ. And that’s where I find comfort in the midst of such tragedy. There are so many questions to ask and so many answers to seek. But what we need to cling to is the love of God that was shown to us at Christmas and through the cross. This world doesn’t make sense but praise be to God – God has overcome the world. Find strength and healing in God through Jesus Christ and not in knee-jerk, worldly “answers”.
Blessings to you this day as you grieve and mourn with the hope of the resurrection. Praise be to God!
Have a Merry Christmas!
The pastor -|—
As I sit here in my nice, comfortable living room; safe and sound; praying and thinking of those who are mourning the death of loved ones in Connecticut, I find myself speechless (or wordless). I know there are many people out there that have so many questions. And as a pastor, part of me feels that I need to come up with some wise answer and response to this senseless shooting.
Why did so many children have to die?
Why did anyone have to die?
What could possibly possess someone to walk into a school and start shooting?
What were they thinking?
So many questions
So much fear
So much anger
So much confusion
But the fact of the matter is this ~ We can’t make sense of this. One thing we can conclude is that this is a sin-fallen world, but even that statement does not bring any healing. Actually…it might even offend someone who is mourning. So we can’t just say that and stop. That would be irresponsible. It would be no different than how many people have tried to explain tragedies and natural disasters in our past. Some have even gone so far as to say that God ordained such an event as a way to communicate something or announce judgement. That too would be irresponsible on our part.
So what can we say now?
In the face of tragedy the only answer we have is Jesus. That’s it…and that is all we need.
Jesus came to us in love
Jesus announced forgiveness
Jesus died on a cross and rose from the grave
Jesus has won the victory and that victory is ours through faith in him
That’s what is comforting me right now, but I am still sad. A tragedy like this will do that to a person. So in the mean time I will just run to God. Running hard with open arms. Running hard with tears of sadness and tears of joy. Conflicted but victorious through Jesus Christ.
Don’t try to come up with an answer. Don’t try to make sense of the senseless. Run to God and listen. Run to God and know healing. Run to God and find hope. Jesus is the answer. Alleluia!
Loving and gracious God, our hearts go out to those who are mourning the death of loved ones but our hearts are also mourning and breaking. Please bring us healing and hope that we may find strength in you to share healing and hope with those who are hurting. Help us to see the victory over this world that Jesus won and gave to us through faith. May we run to you and not to worldly wisdom. Loving God, we worship and praise you in and through this storm. Amen.
The pastor -|—