You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Church’ category.

Have you ever been talking to someone and then you realize they aren’t there? They walked out of the room or something, and you didn’t know it.

This week I had a discussion like that – a disagreement, really, and with a guy who lived 400 years ago.

John Donne was an English poet, back in the early 1600s. He was the one who said “no man is an island” – yeah, he would have fit in with the inter-connectedness of everything now-a-days. That isn’t what I had a problem with.

He also said “every man’s death diminishes me”. We have had several deaths recently, including Starla’s mom just this week. Now I understand what he is saying – there is a loss each time someone breathes their last.  That’s true. But he used the word “every” – not some, not most, but every. So that has to include Jesus, who was fully man, while being fully God. And what I disagreed with, talking to the man from 400 years ago, is that Jesus’s death actually enhanced his life – and mine – rather than diminishing it. Yes, there was very much pain and suffering on the cross. I am sorry that Jesus had to suffer so, and I am terribly sorry that He had to do it for my sins.

I am also glad that He did, and my life is enhanced in uncountable ways because of Jesus’s death, and I will spend eternity in heaven because of that death. If that isn’t an enhancement, instead of a diminishment, I don’t know what is.

As all Christians take the bread and the juice, let us remember that death – and that resurrection. Romans 14:9 says “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”  Let’s pray.

Lord God, thank You for sending Jesus to pay the price for our sins – for my sins. Thank You for His death, and thank You for His resurrection. It’s in His name I pray, amen.

(communion meditation for March 26, 2017)

(My communion meditation for today.)

A few weeks ago, I got sick on a Friday. Head cold. Rough weekend. By Tuesday I was really tired of it, and declared myself well. Wednesday I declared myself completely cured. Thursday I said I was in the best health in decades.

Friday I went to the doctor, who told me I was sick. Bronchitis. Bummer.

He gave me a prescription, I took it, and I got better.

At one level, this can be seen as a guy who wouldn’t face reality about being sick. At a spiritual level, this applies to all of us. We all think we’re strong, think we can do it on our own, think we can declare ourselves spiritually well. But the Great Physician knows our disease – sin – and He is the cure.

As we take the wafer and the juice, symbolizing His broken body and spilled blood, let us remember that He is the cure, and he paid the complete cost, now and forever.

Let’s pray.

Lord, Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. We didn’t even know we were sick. Remind us, now and always, of the terrible price Jesus paid for our sins. Thank you for His precious blood that cleanses us from that sin. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

(another communion meditation)

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a new year.  This is the first Sunday of the new year, the third day into the year, and all of two thousand sixteen is bright and shiny.

So what?  Isn’t this the same way we saw last year, and the same way we’ll see next year?  In Ecclesiastes 1:9, Solomon says

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

But that isn’t the end of everything.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

So is everything changing every day?  Yes and no. James 1:17 says

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

So things do change – we get gifts, perfect ones, from God, and He doesn’t change.  And what is the best gift?  Something new, of course.  1 Corinthians 11:23-26 says

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Let’s pray.

Lord, in Your wisdom you made the earth to rotate around the sun, marking days and seasons and years. In Your wisdom, You made a way for us to change from darkness to light, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  And in Revelation, the One who sits on the throne says “Behold, I am making everything new.”  Thank You for Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death.  Thank You for our new life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

My communion meditation for November 22, 2015.

I was in a city I hadn’t been to in a long time, walking along a sidewalk, when I saw a sign.  It had been put up by the city fathers, and seemed like it would have good advice.  I read the sign and followed the advice.  It said “DON’T WALK”, and I didn’t walk.  That saved me from a lot of harm and pain.

In I Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul says

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

That’s what we are doing now as we celebrate communion.  The Heavenly Father put up the sign.  We read it, and we are following the instructions.  And unlike the traffic light, these instructions never change.  Let’s pray.

Lord, you have made it so simple for us – see the sign, do the sign.  Hear the message, do the message.  And yet without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, without the Holy Spirit’s power, we couldn’t do this at all.  Thank you for the reminder, for the call to remember.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Ice cream is good.  Ice cream in itself is not sinful – it can be a blessing.  But not always.

Let’s look at three different reactions to wanting a bowl of ice cream

One friend tells you “I want a bowl of ice cream, but I’m going to a birthday party tomorrow.”  You think to yourself, “Fifty-fifty chance they’re having ice cream tonight, maybe sixty-forty.”

Another friend tells you “I want a bowl of ice cream.  However, I’m trying to lose ten pounds for the holidays.”  You recognize there’s different motivation, and think there’s a decent chance your friend will go without ice cream.

A third friend tells you “I want a bowl of ice cream.  Nevertheless, I’m diabetic, and I ran out of the medication, and I don’t want to die.”  There’s motivation, and conviction, and strong willpower. No ice cream for that friend.  No way.

But.    However.    Nevertheless.   Three words, all in the same group, with different intensities.

Jesus, on the night before He was crucified, had a talk with His Father.  In Mark 14:36, He prays, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Abba means Daddy – that’s very intimate.  The cup is not a glass, not the wine from the Last Supper – it is the cup of pain, suffering, and dying on the cross.  Nevertheless means that God the Father makes the decision.  Jesus carries it out.

And that’s what we’re celebrating here – the grape juice that symbolizes Jesus’ blood, the wafer that symbolizes His body.  Because regardless of what Jesus wanted, He did what He had to. All who have said “The world pulls me.  Nevertheless, I choose Jesus” are invited to partake.  Let’s pray.

Father God, the pull of ice cream, the pull of the world is strong.  You are stronger.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit strengthening Jesus, and us, in times of testing.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

My communion meditation on Sunday, Feb 1.

I have a confession to make.  I am a crybaby.

It’s true.  If I don’t get my way, I can get mad and sulk.  God is helping me overcome this childish trait, but one of my regular internal messages is “That’s not fair!”.

A few weeks ago I had to carry the Production Support phone for my company, for a week.  It’s not bad – there’s a guy who works into second shift to cover then, and a guy who works third shift so I can sleep.  Except the second shift guy worked only two days, and the third shift guy was on vacation the whole time.  “That’s not fair!”

A week or so ago, in our small group here at the church on Thursday nights, we were talking about how God had a problem.  He created us and loves us, and wants to be gracious to us.  But we are sinners, and God hates sin.  His sense of justice demands that the penalty for sin be paid.  The solution, as you know, was to have Jesus come to earth, live a perfect and sinless life, and to die on the cross.  Randy said “God in effect treated Christ as if He were a sinner so that He can now treat real sinners as if they were righteous saints.”  And I thought to myself – “That’s not fair!”.

The injustice, in this case, is real and not imagined.  Jesus did nothing to deserve to die – I did, and you did.  And yet it was Jesus on the cross, not you, not me.  Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  It isn’t fair – it is sacrificial love.  And that is what we are celebrating with communion.  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, you love us.  It’s not fair – we don’t deserve it.  And yet it is ours if we accept it.  Thank you for making it available, at a great cost.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Communion meditation from July 13, 2014

Charles Dickens started off his novel, A Tale Of Two Cities, with these famous words: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I was considering the Last Supper, and what Jesus was thinking and feeling. It was the best of times – He had been waiting His whole life (well, forever, really) for this time, when He was going to become the Savior of all mankind through His death and resurrection. He kept Himself sinless, carrying out the Father’s work. And yet it was the worst of times. One of His disciples, who He had been mentoring, teaching and leading for three years, was going to betray Him for thirty pieces of silver. As a result of that, Jesus was going to die a shameful death on the cross. Worst of all, He was going to be separated from God the Father as Jesus went to Hell with our burden of sins. Total separation from God, with whom He had spent eternity past with. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Now we come to the time of communion, when we take the bread and the cup and remember that sacrifice. For us, also, it is the best of times. We celebrate the freedom from sin. We joyously remember the risen Savior, who was the firstborn from the dead, whom we will meet in Heaven. And yet it is the worst of times. It was for our sin – my sin, your sin – that Jesus had to die. When we do this in remembrance of Jesus, we have to examine ourselves to be sure that we are partaking in a worthy manner. And we can be.

Because this is the best of times. Jesus has paid the price. We are free in Christ. Like Him, we will rise again. Hallelujah!

Let’s pray.

Father God, I come before Your throne in the name of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God. You gave the best, even when we deserve the worst. Thank you for that infinite love, that infinite sacrifice. Thank you for making us part of Your family. Amen.

My communion meditation for February 2, 2014.

I got a new phone a couple weeks ago.  It was everything the old phone wasn’t – small, light, fast.  It was cool.  My phone made me happy.

Over time, it became less cool.  The phone wasn’t perfect.  I still had to charge the battery, and buy a case, and put a screen protector on.  I wasn’t as happy.

Then I thought about Jeff’s sermon on worship, and the small group study on Gods at War, and turning things into idols, and I realized that I might be going down a path that I shouldn’t.  So I did what I knew I needed to do.  I built a shrine at home for my phone, with a little cell-phone throne, and a spare battery, and got my car wrapped with a sticker that says “I worship Verizon”, and I’m thinking about getting a tattoo . . .

No, that isn’t true.  Not even the tattoo part.  Yes, my old phone was a bother.  Yes, the new phone is nice.  It’s not perfect.  And I don’t worship it.

Let me quote from the book of Jonah, chapter 2, verse 8, just before God caused the fish to spit him up.  In his prayer, Jonah said

Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.

What we are here to do is to be like Jonah, to turn from idols, whether they are a phone or a car, a friend or an attitude, a bank account or a job, and turn to Jesus, who suffered and died on a cross, and was resurrected to provide for our salvation.  That is what we are celebrating now – Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

A cell phone can’t provide salvation to us.  Nothing other than Jesus can do that.  Nothing.

My communion meditation from Sunday 11/3/2013.

 

A few weeks ago, Jeff told us to quit lying to ourselves.  I believe he was preaching out of 1 John 2.  I’m not sure if that’s the exact way he said it, but that was the message.

I’m glad Jeff wasn’t talking to me, because I’m not lying to myself.  I’m not really speeding, you see.  I’m just keeping up with traffic.  And I’m not overeating, I’d just hate for the food to go to waste.  And I’m not ignoring my time with God, it’s just that I’m busy.

James 1:5-8 says

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Surely that’s not me! I’m just —  I’m just making excuses.  I’m lying to myself.

James, a little bit later in his letter, says

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

So for the double-minded, for those lying to themselves, for the people who are just — anything, there is hope.  Ephesians 4:4-6 says

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

And that is what we are celebrating now – unity with God the Father, through Jesus’ sacrifice, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

This was my communion meditation today.  It was good, but I think I could have done better.  Then again, I don’t want to put my skills and preferences in front of what God wants – the minister referenced this twice in his sermon, because he used scripture and a story that I had used.  It seemed like a God thing, so I am not rewriting it.


When you were young, did you ever imagine yourself in a Bible story?

Being there when David killed Goliath.  Seeing Joseph’s coat of many colors.  Celebrating Jesus’ birth.  Being one of the Israelites when Moses parted the sea.  Great, uplifting moments – you can imagine being there, participating, helping.  Not necessarily the main character, but one of the supporting roles.  Not one of the brothers who threw Joseph into the pit, but maybe in the group of traders who purchased him and took him to Egypt.  Not Mary or Joseph, but maybe one of the shepherds.

Now there was another Bible story that I didn’t want to be a part of.  Just before Moses parted the Red Sea, the Israelites had been captives in Egypt.  Through nine plagues – frogs, hail, locusts, and the rest –Pharaoh had not been convinced to let the Israelites go.  The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn male.  That concerned me – I am a first-born male.  The Israelites found freedom from this plague by putting lamb’s blood on the door of their house, as God commanded Moses.  Exodus 12:23 says “GOD will pass through to strike Egypt down. When he sees the blood on the lintel and the two door posts, GOD will pass over the doorway; he won’t let the destroyer enter your house to strike you down with ruin.”  My parents weren’t Egyptian, but they weren’t Jewish, either.  No blood on our doorway.  That could have been me that was sentenced to death.

Now we come to the present day – August fourth, 2013.  We find that we are not just hoping to be in a Bible story – we are living it as a main character.  The events prophesied in Isaiah and the rest of the Old Testament have come to pass – Jesus was born just as foretold, lived a sinless life, was crucified on the cross, and was resurrected on the third day.  The events prophesied in Revelation haven’t happened yet – we are still looking forward to Christ’s triumphant return.  Yet “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “the wages of sin is death.”  There is still that destroyer seeking to enter your house and strike you down with ruin.

We have an advantage over the Israelites in Moses’ time – we have the pure and spotless Lamb whose blood was shed for our sins.  And on Judgment Day God will see that blood and see the purity of Jesus, for everyone who has trusted Him for salvation.

Back in Moses’ time, God told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover with a meal.  Exodus 12:42 says “It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.” The Last Supper was Jesus and the disciples celebrating that Passover meal in Jerusalem.  That is when He said “This is my body. This is my blood.  Do this in remembrance of Me.”  Let’s pray.