January 2019 Streams of Thought
A new year brings new hopes, ideas, dreams, and goals. The
goals might be improving our health, trying new things, improving
hobby or job skills, or reconnecting with a friend or relative.
For Christians the primary goal is growing in faith. An old hymn
says, "More about Jesus would I know/More of His grace to
others show/More of His Kingdom's sure increase/More of His
coming, Prince of Peace/More, more about Jesus/More, more
about Jesus/More of His saving fullness see/More of His love,
Who died for me."
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would "guide us into all truth" (John 16:13) and Jesus' own words from John 14:6 say He is "the way the TRUTH, and the life."
If God is the source of all truth it follows that through Jesus we
receive the Truth; about the world, ourselves, and a relationship
with the Living God. A recent contemporary song says "There's no wall You won't kick down/No lie You won't tear down/coming after me." God's loving and relentless pursuit of us means, among other things, facing up to the truth He brings into our field of vision. For example the world says, "Follow your heart" but as one of my clergy colleagues said, "That's lousy advice; our hearts can be a real mess."
On one level our hearts often make more decisions from selfishness than we like to admit. On a whole other level people have "followed their hearts" and the results were some of the most murderous regimes in history.
Following Jesus and letting Him and the Holy Spirit reveal God's Truth to us reduces the tendency to "follow our hearts." Letting Him guide our hearts, minds, motives, and actions lessens the chance we'll fall into the trap of living according to the fickle and unreliable passions generated in our hearts.
Our upcoming sermon series will focus on "Living the Life" as a follower of Jesus so we reflect His glory, peace, love, mercy, grace, and holiness. In
following His perfect and holy heart we find the abundant life He spoke of in John 10. As we strive grow in our faith this year let's give glory to God who leads us into the
Happy New Year 2019!!
Grace and Peace,
December 2018 Streams of Thought
The Season of Advent is the highlight, along with Easter, of the Christian calendar. It celebrates the anticipation and excitement of His coming, His Advent.
That anticipation was even more intense in the years leading up to His birth. The original Christians were Jews who inherited a centuries-old hope that M'schiach (Messiah) would come and re-establish Israel's power, glory, and honor.
There were strong political elements but there was also a powerful faith side. By the time Jesus was born, politics were emphasized over faith because of Roman occupation. From Europe to Arabia to North Africa the Roman Empire was the Big Kid on the Block.
The Romans allowed Jews to more or less freely practice their faith and life but they were still controlled by a foreign power and subject to the whims, laws, and taxes of that power. The Zealots were one reaction to this and their movement sparked uprisings often led by men claiming to be M'schiach.
Some Jews decided to "go along to get along;" others hoped the real M'schiach would come soon and the sooner the better! These earliest Christians, all Jews,
came to the conclusion that the one called Jesus of Nazareth was the true M'schiach. They saw Him from the faith side of Messianic hope. He did not come to conquer
Rome but to conquer hearts and connect people forever with God.
What He offered had less to do with politics and more to do with living in a world of shifting alliances, human failings, and uncertain futures, trusting Him without reservation as the Incarnation of the Living God who is with His people no matter what.
In these uncertain and turbulent times we invite Y'shua Ha M'schiach, Jesus the Messiah, to come to us in power, grace, love, and glory. Let Him revive and rekindle a holy fire within us as we wait for Him in this Advent Season.
Grace and Peace,
November 2018 Streams of Thought
It's hard to believe we're nearing the end of the year; Halloween is near, Thanksgiving is coming up and right around the corner is Christmas.
Some stores were clearing old Christmas inventory at 40% off back in AUGUST! We lament the commercialization and diluting of Christmas (and Thanksgiving) but find it hard to push back against this cultural flood tide.
Maybe the best way to do this is to simply observe these holidays as "Christianly" as possible. St. Francis of Assisi is often misquoted as saying, "Always preach the Gospel; when necessary use words." While no evidence exists he actually said or wrote those words, the sentiment is good.
The Gospel, or Good News of Jesus Christ, is often lived and spoken at the same time. In our quiet time with God, our seasonal or holiday reading, personal worship times, and other daily activities, we can focus on the Christ who blesses us with so many blessings and be thankful and celebrate His coming to earth to save us. There are many great books and internet blogs that do this at this time of year. I encourage you to use these resources and others to help focus anew on Christ during the seasons we are approaching.
My own personal study for this time will be on the faith and theology of various Christmas carols as well as some of the people in the Nativity narratives in the Gospels. I hope this focus will turn my attention away from some of the cringeworthy stuff we see around the holidays and help me see Christ and His birth in new ways.
From this I hope will flow a fresh desire to fulfill the purpose of the Church: to bear witness to the Christ who has come to save us.
Grace and Peace,