Sunday, March 31, 2013

LOST?

IT’S A TERRIBLE FEELING BEING LOST. Whether you’re in the middle of the Sahara Desert with nothing but sand for as far as the eyes can see, or you’re in the middle lane of the 405 Freeway in Southern California with nothing but unmoving cars as far as the eyes can see, being lost can be a frightening, unnerving, frustrating experience. But what if the place where you are lost is nothing but a blank Word.docx glaring at you like some alter-universe white-hole ready to suck you into oblivion?  Take it from me I would rather choose the 405 right now, though not too sure about the Sahara Desert.

 So, here I sit, tomorrow’s deadline looms before me and  I am supposed to come up with some creative front-piece for the church bulletin, for Resurrection Sunday no less! A pastor lost for words…it’s not a pretty sight; downright scary, if you ask me.

But, maybe on a Maundy Thursday evening, waiting for the day we call Good Friday, sense of being lost is what I should be feeling. Maybe the same sense of being lost that Jesus may have begun to feel as He washed the feet of those who said they would follow Him to the death, yet He knew that one of them would deny knowing Him and another would betray Him into the hands of those who wanted Him dead.

Maybe my feeling of being lost can help me understand Jesus’ prayer for God the Father to find another way other than the coming death upon the cross, or maybe even a small sense of His being lost as He cried from the cross, “My God! My God, why have you forsaken Me?”  No! His sense of loss is beyond my comprehension, beyond my ability to know or to experience. In fact, He became lost so that I could be found!
This is what the resurrection was all about; being found! I, who was lost in sin and death have been found by the very great grace of God! It was my Lord Jesus who said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost!” (Luke 19:10)

Hallelujah! What a Savior! What a resurrection!  I was lost, but now I am found! My sin-blackened page has been made white as snow, and the Creator God has set His pen to this paper and has written, “Mine!”

Now the story begins.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

THE MOANING TREE

Redwood Majesty
Redwood Majesty (Photo credit: MizzD)

IT DOESN'T TAKE MUCH OF A BREEZE to get one particular redwood tree to start its mournful song. High up in the redwood canopy, yet unseen from our gaze, two redwoods are leaning upon each other, their wind-born movement sending forth their mournful cry. If it were not for the possibility of one of the trees pushing over the other, their song would be a welcome sound, but alas their song is indicative of a growing problem.

As I listened very early this morning (or was it very late last night) their moaning reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s description of creation. He writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.(Romans 8:18-25)

All creation groans with us, waiting for that great and glorious day when the fullness of our salvation will be realized.  What a day that will be! The redwoods behind my house moan to remind me of the redemption that is coming. Not unlike the heavens which declare the glory of God (Psalm 19) creation around me points to God. And yet without our words the acts of creation would be without a clarifying voice. They are dependent upon you and me to bring a meaningful voice to the moans of the redwoods, the silent  symphony of the heavenly bodies and even the crying-out of the rocks which lay at our feet. (Luke 19:40)

Therefore raise your voice and declare with all creation, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”  (Mark 11:9)

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

THE PASSION OF OUR LORD!

I SHOULD BE WORKING ON MY SERMON RIGHT NOW, but nothing much is flowing, which is not a good thing for 8:00 on a Saturday night!

Jesus
Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How do you communicate an event that you share about every year with a sense of freshness, a sense of passion?  Most in attendance Sunday morning will have heard the message numerous times throughout their church-going days. I don't think there will be many, if any, there that doesn't know the story. (Some may call me pessimistic, but I think I am more of a realist than a pessimist.)

How can I communicate with any real depth the passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, for us? Most anything I say will seem trite, or old-fashioned, or "out of touch with the needs of our world today."

I need a passion for the Passion! 
I need a fresh injection of the Gospel!
I need to see with new eyes the Savior on the donkey!
I need to hear with new ears the "Hosanna's!"
I need to lay down my coat, my coverings!
I need to hear the tremor in my Lord's voice as He weeps over the city.
I need to hear the "rocks cry out!"

I need Jesus, the Messiah!
I need Jesus, the Savior of the world!
I need Jesus, the Son of the Most High God!
I need Jesus, the Living Word of God!
I need Jesus, my God!

What do YOU need this Passion Week?

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

THE CLOUD


SPEAK OF THE CLOUD TODAY and many will think you’re talking about that place where all our computer program and data are stored. We are increasingly living in a IT world where all the resides on your laptop, tablet or phone are apps; connectors to The Cloud where the real action is taking place.

Today my mind is contemplating another cloud; it’s the cloud written of in Hebrews 12:1-3,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every that hinder us and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I am thinking about this cloud that is now populated by two dear saints whom God called home this past week. Dick Mack and Janis Brackett were both longing to hear the voice of the Lord say, “come home me beloved, well done good and faithful steward, ‘enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21 NASB) They both served their Lord well. They both desired to see God’s kingdom built and were actively, consistently involved in the work of spread the Gospel in both word and deed.

Both Dick and Janis will be missed by many, including this pastor. They were both of great and honest encouragement to me. I knew them as faithful prayer-warriors for God’s work both inside and outside the walls of the church. To be honest, is has been members of the Body of Christ, like Dick and Janis, that have kept me at the task to which God has called me.

We have much to learn from their gentle and quiet spirits and from their hearts for the lost, especially it seems those who are often seen as the outcasts of society and those that don’t quite “fit in.” They are models to me of what it means to love unconditionally and being more concerned about the expansion of God’s Kingdom than their own personal preferences.

They will both be missed, and though I am sure others will stand in their stead, they shall never be duplicated. I miss them both already, but as a see the clouds floating by today, I gain peace, hope and encouragement that they both from the cloud-side seats are encouraging us to not become weary or to lose heart, but to run the race for the glory of God. So, let us lace up those running shoes and hit the road! See you at the finish-line Dick and Janis. 

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

LIVING FOREVER

LAST NIGHT, MY DEAR BROTHER-IN-LORD, DICK MACK, passed into glory. I miss him already, but I do not grieve like those who have no hope, (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) for I know that he is in the arms of our Lord and Savior, and that Brother Dick longed for this day.

I will miss him, he was a true living saint. I know heaven's population is larger because of Dick's unceasing offering up a living witness, in word and in deed, before everyone he met.

I am sure I will say more in a later blog installment. But for now let it suffice to say. Our loss, is heaven's gain.

Rejoice, well my dear brother. I shall one day see you again, because of our shared faith in Jesus Christ.

To God be the glory!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

BECOMING THE PERFECT FATHER


OK, KIDS HOLD ON TO YOUR SEATS, I’VE GOT A NEWS RELEASE: “I am not, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be, the perfect father.” I could blame it on my father, who was not perfect. I could blame it Dr. James Dobson and my inability to attain any of the goals he set for perfect fathering. I could blame it on my culture that surely has not given me a positive or consistent model of what it means to be a perfect father. I could blame it on all the imperfect fathers that I have had the privilege of knowing and their inability to show me how to do this thing called “fathering.” And, I suppose I could blame it on my children (sorry kids) who have sometimes, just sometimes, pushed the limits of my chances of being the perfect father.
     Now this lack of fathering skills has not come from want of trying. There have been days that I have given it 110%. There have been times that even my children might admit I had come close. Those days were usually ironically connected with trips to Disneyland or the Boardwalk. I have read the books, (just stop by my study if you would like to check one out). I have gone to the seminars. I have studied God’s Word, and I have prayed. The Lord knows I have prayed! Yet, I still have not reached even the “Perfect Fathering Play-offs.”
     I suppose I could find solace in Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 23:9, “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father.’ For you only have one Father and He is in heaven.” But, any of my New Testament Bible professors would tell me that my exegesis of the passage was faulty at best. There’s just no way around it, the truth of the matter is the reason I am an imperfect father, is because I am an imperfect person. It’s the old sin nature once again rearing its ugly head. Thankfully, I can bring this imperfection before my Lord and He will graciously deal with me as He has in the past, with love and forgivingness.
     Since, I will not make the ranks of “perfect father,” maybe I should settle for diligently endeavoring to be a good dad. I think a dad is one who is in touch with his faults and imperfections, and strives forward to love his children unconditionally.
     So, what does being a good dad mean? Well, I don’t have much room left here, suffice it to say a good D. A. D: 
Desires, prays, and works to see them become all God created them to be; Actively involved in the lives of his kids. Delights that each child is a unique gift from God. 
      I may not be a perfect father, yet, but I can strive to be a good dad.  OK, kids?


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Thursday, March 07, 2013

BE THE CHURCH

OFTEN, WE FORGET or at least get frustrated by trying to figure out what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ in our community today. Here is a short video which takes the steps to remind us what it can mean for us to BE the church

Out of Ur: Loving as Learners (Video)

Sunday, March 03, 2013

TURNING AROUND


I DON’T REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME it happened, but I am sure I was not very happy about it.  I know it happens to almost everybody at some time or another, and often it’s really nothing to get that worked up over, but it still unsettles me and even makes me angry at times.

Oh, you want to know what in the world I am talking about? Well it’s those times that you pile your family in the car, or maybe it’s just you and your spouse, or maybe it’s just you and you’re driving down the road and suddenly you remember that the item you were to bring is back at home. It might be the casserole for the church potluck, or it might be the kid’s homework, or maybe it’s your airline tickets, but whatever it is you have to turn around and go back home and get it. Hopefully, you’re not too far down the road, especially if it’s your airline tickets!

In those times, none of us enjoys turning around and heading back home, but it is something we must do in order to complete the task we were headed out to accomplish. It is something that must be done, whether we like it or not.

Corcovado jesus
Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
Today’s Lenten Bible text talks about turning around. (@ashes_to_fire or Ashes to Fire) We are called to turn, the Biblical word is repent, from the way we were going and to make our way back home. But this returning back home does not entail us picking up something and heading back out again in the same direction that we were going, rather we are called to turn around and pick up something new and begin a new journey with Jesus.

It’s not always easy to turn around, but when it means returning home to Jesus, the turning is always worth the effort and the new journey with Jesus will be guaranteed to be an exciting one. Therefore, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, then why not turn around now before you get any farther down the road? I promise you, you will not regret it.

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Saturday, March 02, 2013

A DEATH WISH

English: The Great Commission, at the Cathedra...
English: The Great Commission, at the Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick in El Paso (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
RECENTLY, I had the privilege of attending the graveside service of one of God's servant-saints, the Reverend Nickolas Osorio.

While at the graveside a few other pastors spoke about how Pastor Osorio had been a great encouragement to them serving as a living example of a man who both loved and served the Lord and his own family as well.

I know much could be said about Pastor Osorio, I am sure much will be as his life and ministry is remembered by his family and those he ministered unto in the Name of the Lord.

Two things were spoken of him very briefly, but struck me profoundly. One who spoke said that to Pastor Osorio the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) was not a "program, but a lifestyle." Another said, while offering up the committal prayer, Pastor Osorio had "fulfilled the purpose for which God had sent him."

 I can only hope and pray that those two things could be said of me at my passing. To know that the reason the Lord called me home was because I had finished the purpose for which I had been born, and that I lived a life which consistently carried forth our Lord's Commission to, "Go and make disciples of all nations."

I did not really know Reverend Osorio in life (only through family connections) but I know that even in his passing he has encourage me as well.

God bless you, brother Osorio, rest in His peace-filled presence.
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