Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Okay, so I haven't posted in a little while. Things have gone a little goofy recently with schedule and what not. Part of that was my recent illness, and thankfully it's on the road to recovery. I just wanted to let you know that I am still here and plan to continue posting. I also wanted to let you know that there will be a slight change of plans starting tomorrow. As you know tomorrow starts Lent with Ash Wednesday. I wanted to try something different, for me at least, this year and so I've decided that I'm going to read through "A Purpose Driven Life." Consequently my posts each day will be related to what I've read in there. So if you want to read along with me, please feel free.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Romans 12:17-21

We really are picking up where we left off yesterday, aren't we? What a wonderful way to live life, that's laid out here. In fact, earlier this week I was talking to somebody and they told me that their philosophy is to "kill them with kindness." Isn't that what Paul is encouraging? How much does that diffuse the situation when they come in and attack you're nice back? They have no response. It's not normal. It's beautiful.... of course, I think they key is back at the beginning of this chapter and allowing God to transform us. It really is God working through us when we attack evil with good. I know I couldn't do it alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Romans 12:9-16

Recently Dawn and I have started watching, "The Bachelor." I'm pretty sure neither of us could tell you why, but we have. Part of the appeal, it seems, is trying to figure out the genuineness of the intentions of the women on the show, the bachelor as well I suppose. There are a lot of accusations about being fake flying across the television screen and in our living room. Yet, is that really fair as audience members? How often have you had the following conversation:

"Hi, how you doing?"
"Good, thanks."

How often have you genuinely cared about how the other is doing when you ask that question? How often have you been genuine in your response? How often do you ask just to be polite? How often do you respond to make the other person happy so they will simply continue on their way?

Today, Paul encourages our love to be genuine, to really care when we ask things like, "How are you doing?" We are encouraged to serve, love, and care for others out of the goodness of our heart. It is the kind of love we receive from God first. God's love for us is ALWAYS genuine. When we pray God REALLY wants to know how we are doing and what we need. God loves us so deeply. So let us join our hearts together and genuinely love one another.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Romans 12:3-8

I know, it's Valentine's Day, but I just couldn't bring myself to step aside and seek out something on love. It just seems like such a random arbitrary holiday, but what do I know?

I was largely struck today by verse 3 and this talk of boasting. It's so easy for me to become smug and think that what I'm doing is so much more important to others. It often leads to frustration for me because my greatness seems to simply go unrecognized. The thing is, I'm fooling myself because in reality I'm not more important and what others are doing are equally important. Don't we all have those moments? "I work at Mayo, I'm involved in saving lives, my job is more stressful than others they should be looking out for me." "I help teach Bible classes at church. I give offering on a regular basis, I deserve a say in what goes on around here." The thing is the bus driver, the trash collector, the construction worker, etc. have jobs just as important as yours. What they do may actually be critical in saving lives as well, maybe more indirectly or maybe in different ways. Just because I'm a pastor here at this church doesn't make me any more important than the member who comes once a month and rarely drops money in the offering plate. We are all a part of this body of Christ, we all have say around here. None of us can really boast of our position in life. Seriously, we really only have our positions in life because of what God is doing through us, so really God is the only one with a right to boast...and something tells me God is not going to be going around pumping his chest and holding a press conference for the whole world to hear any time soon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Romans 12:1-2

I only made it through two verses today, as you can see, because I was just so struck by them. My brain just got stuck on offering ourselves as a living sacrifice and then that encouragement that we not be conformed to this world. They are both kind of scary thoughts to me. I don't know if I can do it. I easily fall into the traps of this world, or liking the things other people like, watching the shows that others watch, I am tempted by greed, wealth, and all of those "things" that commercials are trying to make me long for. I like trying to keep up with various cultural, and more specifically pop cultural, news and trends. I am pretty fully enmeshed in this world. Yet we are called to not be conformed to this world, to be in the world and not of it.

To offer ourselves as a living sacrifice? I have to admit I don't know if I like the sounds of that. I am an American. I am used to my freedom and doing what I want to do. I like to do it my way, to do my own thing. If I were to give myself as a sacrifice that would seem to suggest giving my whole life, giving my freedom, over to God. Oh, I know that God knows better and will take better care of me than I will, but I kind of like doing it my way. I kind of like doing my own thing, and if we're completely honest I suppose at a very base, sub-conscious level I might not really trust God enough.

This scares me a little. What Paul is calling us to, this call to live a life of faith, is a really radical, extreme sort of call. It's not really some mushy feel good religion like we often make it out to be. It's a life of sacrifice and living against our instincts. I pray today for the courage and strength to simply begin to attempt this radical way of life.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Romans 11:27-36

I was struck today by Paul's question, "Who has known the mind of the Lord?"

Seriously, anyone? Could we even handle it? All I know is that sometimes people think because I'm a pastor I do know, or should know, what God is thinking or what God wants. Sometimes I feel that because I'm a pastor now I should know these things. Here is the truth of the matter: even though I'm now a pastor it turns out I'm still human (and I'm sure anyone that knows me personally at all will be glad to verify that). I'm like most people wishing God would send me an e-mail, text message, or something telling me exactly what God's will is so that I can try and follow it. Instead, I flounder around trying to make my way.

However, this not knowing is also good news in light of what Paul is writing here. Paul's talking about God's mercy for all people. That means God forgives those that we sometimes find hard to forgive. It means that God is far more open and forgiving than we are (or maybe I should say, I am) judgmental. That certainly is good news because despite the fact that I'm a pastor there are still those who would try and make the argument that I shouldn't be "in" with God. Thankfully, God doesn't think that way.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Romans 11:13-26

Paul is speaking to the unbelievers here and how they can be grafted into the tree of life, the remnant of believers. At first it got me to thinking of the new members we brought into our fold here at Christ Lutheran. There is great joy in seeing them joining our community of faith. At the same time there is a warning to respect the tradition, the pillars of the congregation, that have nourished us for years. Before we, who were already members, get too high on our selves seeing ourselves as part of the tree already it is a warning to us. We too were grafted in to this tree of life that began hundreds and thousands of years ago. We can be cut off like the unbelievers of Israel that Paul talks about. However, when wrapped in faith, in belief, we will be a part of the tree fed and nourished by God. Scary, maybe, but encouraging and hopeful for sure.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Romans 11:1-12

Paul refers to a remnant, a small strong-hold of believers. I've hear reference to this quite a bit from more conservative, evangelical speakers. I wonder, though, how much it pertains to us now. Living in a free society, supposedly founded on Christian values, are we really the minority? Are we clinging together just so we can stay alive? I suppose there are small, rural congregations that feel that way. Although, I have to wonder if some of them just need to let go and go ahead and join the neighboring church, or the "city" church. I also like this sense of community that being a remnant brings. I just don't know if we're in such desperate straits. Maybe I'm just fooling myself.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Romans 10:12-21

This good news of Jesus Christ is for everyone. How wonderful is that? How do they hear it? Through you and me. We are called today to be proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ. I love how Paul points out the feet are golden for those us who proclaim. I think that's very cool. I think this is fitting of our reading from 1 Corinthians this coming Sunday where Paul seems to be encouraging us to do whatever it takes to share that good news. What an honor and a privilege it is to be called to bare this message.

Here's the problem though. I think it's terribly scary. Oh, it's fine in the pulpit. It's not all so scary to talk about Jesus during worship. It's not all so scary to share Jesus in a Sunday school classroom or during a church event. It's expected that we might do such a thing there. The problem is it gets scary to proclaim at the grocery store, at school, with friends at a party. That, I believe, is the real challenge. I pray today that we might be given the boldness and the courage to share this wonderful news wherever we may go, just as Paul would seem to be encouraging us.