Thursday, August 17, 2006


In our gospel reading for this Sunday Jesus says, "unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood." Seriously, that is just plain gross. Sure, we can listen to that now and think, "Ooh, Jesus is talking about communion. Isn't that wonderful?" However, place yourself back in that time. Imagine sitting around and hearing Jesus say this. What would you be thinking? Why would the one you're starting to think just might be the savior be suggesting cannibalism? And on top of that suggesting that he be the main course for dinner? That's just plain nasty.

A strange thing our faith is... at least if you sit down and thing about some of it. Especially if we want to take it literally. Luckily we know that there are portions of the Bible that are intended to be taken symbolically. However, as Fred Hasecke points out in his devotion, that doesn't make the comprehension of things like communion all so much easier. It is really such a profound thing that is happening in our sacraments. Theologians have wrestled and tried to explain it for years, but nobody has fully been able to wrap their heads around it. Yet, so profound how Christ comes to us in such simple ways like the waters of baptism or the bread and wine of communion.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Get Out of the Way

In seminary, and I've heard other pastors say this, we used to say things like, "I just want to try and not get in the way of the Holy Spirit." I think it is important. We have a way of wanting to be the center of attention. I think that's normal. I'm that way a lot. The problem is when you become such the focus that we lose sight of God.

Yesterday was a good reminder of that. In the devotions in Our Daily Bread the author talked about Caroll Spinney the puppeteer behind the well known characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Caroll has done a masterful job of remaining behind the scenes so that the characters can shine. Much in the same way John the Baptist suggested that he must decrease so that Christ might increase... Where do you need to get out of the way?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dining with God

When Seymour passed away, God greeted him at the Pearly Gates. "Thou be hungry, Seymour?" said God.

"I could eat," Seymour replied.

So God opened a can of tuna and reached for a chunk of rye bread and they shared it. While eating this humble meal, Seymour glanced down into Hell and saw the inhabitants devouring huge steaks, lobsters, pheasants, pastries, and fine wines. Curious, but deeply trusting, Seymour remained quiet.

The next day God again invited Seymour for another meal. Again, it was tuna and rye bread. Once again looking down, Seymour could see the denizens of Hell enjoying caviar, champagne, lamb, truffles, and chocolates. Still Seymour said nothing.

The following day, mealtime arrived and God opened another can of tuna. Seymour could contain himself no longer. Meekly, he said: "God, I am grateful to be in heaven with you as a reward for the pious, obedient life I led. But here in heaven all I get to eat is tuna and a piece of rye bread and in the Other Place they eat like emperors and kings! Forgive me, O God, but I just don’t understand."

God sighed: "Let’s be honest, Seymour. For just two people does it pay to cook?"

O, Lord Give Me a Penny

A man asked God,"What does a billion dollars mean to you who are all powerful?"
"Hardly a penny." God said.

Then the man asked God , "And what are a thousand centuries to you?" God answered "Hardly a second!!"

Thinking he had God backed into a corner, the man then said, "Then if that's the case, O, Lord give me a penny !!"

"Sure," God replied. “In just a minute.”

Wisdom isn't outsmarting God, wisdom is living in and with God. Wisdom is being in Christ and surrounded by Christ. Wisdom is eating and drinking from the feast which God has prepared for us.

Today's God Pause

Psalm 34:9-14 (Click to view Bible text below.)

What is it that we seek and fear, want and revere in our quest for a long and prosperous life? Is it the Lord of heaven and earth, who has given us the hope of eternal life with God and all the saints through Christ's death and resurrection? Or is it the power and prestige, selfishness and bigotry that can turn us into young lions that do not fear the Lord, but rather roar fiercely and devour their prey in an endless hunger for more?
How strange it is that the world should turn so often to the latter with lies and evil deeds, since it holds no promise for a better life. One would think that we would know better. And so, the cry goes out: Listen to the Lord and pursue peace by following in Christ's footsteps, for those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

Giver of everything good, we come before you with reverent hearts and ask for your guidance in our pursuit of peace, so that all may enjoy the fullness of life that comes from you in Christ. Amen.

Fred Hasecke
Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Master of Divinity , 1973

Monday, August 14, 2006

Something More

Give this God Pause devotion a read. We have a lot in common with the world. We are simple people. However, we are also called to something more, I think. Like the author points out we are called to not just be human, but humane. I think we are good, but I also think we are called to be great. You see, we are filled the Holy Spirit. We have Jesus in our hearts. We have been, and are, fed with the bread of life. We may not be any better than others, but because of our intimate relationship with God we are called to something more. So go and be great... because of God.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I remember as a kid people always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still ask that question some times of myself. Although, more often I wonder what it would be like to be somebody else or to be more like a particular person. Do you ever wonder about those things? What would it be like to live the life of somebody like Brad Pitt? How would you act differently if you were to act more like Mother Theresa? The devotions from Luther Seminary, called God Pause, offer an interesting challenge in that area. It's normal, I think to model your life after other people, but who are you going to chose? Somebody like your parents, somebody that fought for justice like Martin Luther King Jr., or will you chose a celebrity that lives an outrageous lifestyle? The choice is yours. Who will you chose? Who?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Seeing God

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said:

“When you have no helpers, see all your helpers in God.
When you have many helpers, see God in all your helpers.
When you have nothing but God, see all in God;

when you have everything, see God in everything.
Under all conditions, stay thy heart only on the Lord.”


When did you last read the Lord's prayer in your Bible? I was reading the version in Matthew today and was struck by what appears to be an emphasis on forgiveness. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing, but it can be a scary thing as well. To start with if we let things go long enough we get used to being mad at a certain person and to forgive would mean changing that pattern. What might that look like? How would we deal with that person now? The other scary part is that to get to forgiveness there often needs to be a confrontation. So instead of a calm before the storm we need to face a storm before the calm. In forgiveness there needs to be a confrontation of the wrong that has happened, and very few of us like confrontation. Yet I think we all know the beauty of the other side of forgiveness, that side where we are forgiven. It's a beautiful and wonderful gift. If God can forgive us then it seems that we can forgive others, we can share that gift. Wouldn't that make this world a more beautiful place?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Question: Would you say that you, as a citizen of this great nation, are blessed? If your answer is “Yes!” how do you understand being “blessed? You have a fine home. You drive a nice ear. You have a good job. You are financially secure. You have a good retirement plan. Perhaps you have a cabin or cottage up on some lake.

Jesus never defines “being blessed” in those terms. He defines “blessed” only in terms of how we use life to reflect His servant life-style. He did not live to get and enjoy. He lived to love and to serve—full-time. And we are called to do the same.

We do well to remember that there is no such thing as Christian giving. There is only Christian management of God’s property— including the body in which each of us lives, and which is on loan from God. The goal must not be to encourage people to give more. It must be to inspire them to rob less. Money, after all, is merely stored servanthood.

When Jesus (the true Head of the Church, God’s people) was crucified, His executioners took away all of His earthly possessions: a head cloth, an outer robe, an inner robe, a belt and a pair of sandals. Jesus was crucified naked. Even so, His life was the most blessed life the world has ever seen! And we, His brothers and sisters, are to seek to reflect His style of “blessed life.” A life of servanthood!

--Harry Wendt

Make It

"Fake It 'til You Make It"

I think it's an interesting phrase. I think in a number of cases that can be good advice. It can be a way to learn things like manners. Yet, like most things that have good potential when it's taken too far it can get ugly. On Sunday morning after worship we happened to catch the preacher Joel Osteen on TV. What we got out of his sermon was, if you are feeling bad just tell yourself to have a good day. It kind of rubbed Dawn and I the wrong way. Sometimes your days are bad enough that you can't just will yourself to be happy and cheery, in fact it might just be wrong. For example, I had friend who is an ER nurse tell me about a woman who came in with a child that died from SIDs over night. She showed up later that day because another child of hers had been run over by a car. So what I heard from Joel is that this woman could, and should, just decide to have a good day. I don't think so. We had some other issues with what we heard as well, but we won't get into them here.

Sometimes we have bad days with our faith, we have times when we start to wander in a spiritual wilderness. I think we that happens we have a tendency to try and cover it up and make everything look good. We don't want to look like we lack for faith. The devotion from "Our Daily Bread" talked about that some today. In an attempt to cover up our lack of faith we decide to fake it until we make it. An interesting thought. It might just work sometimes. Yet, I wouldn't recommend it because it puts quite a burden on you that you then need to bear. Instead, this would be another place to be genuine, especially with fellow believers. As a Christian you are a part of a community, that means in those tough times we are here to help bear your burdens so you don't have to by yourself. It is through the body of Christ that you will make it... not by faking it.

Together, but Alone

Sunday's sermon tried to get at our call to unity and pointed out some of the ways we've become divided. After worship, it struck me that I missed one of the biggest challenges we face in trying to connect with one another. Technology. I love technology myself, but in some ways it has killed our community. How often do you see a group of people, especially younger people, together and at least one of them is on the phone or someone is listening to their i-pod? We might be in the same room together, but we're tuned into our technology and our heads are somewhere else. Our mind is with the song on our i-pod, in our conversation on the phone, thinking about our text message, or what e-mail we are sending. We no longer are fully present, all of us present, to the people we are with in the moment.

Multi-tasking? I don't buy it. It is a law of physics that you cannot be in two places at the same time. You might be able to switch back and forth very quickly and efficiently, but you cannot be in both places at the same time. So I challenge you to unplug your electronics for a while and really interact with one another. Don't answer your phone when it rings, you don't have to, or even better yet don't even bring your phone. Sit around the living room and really have a conversation with one another, or play a board game together. You just might find it to be a beautiful gift.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Starving in a Land of Plenty

During the winter of 1610, the population of Jamestown went from about 500 people to about 60. While disease and conflict with the natives took some, most of the settlers simply starved. There were plentiful supplies of fish, oysters, frogs, fowl, and deer; but these settlers from the city were not accustomed to obtaining food from the land. Hence, they starved!

We sometimes act the same way. God comes to us continually in the person of the Holy Spirit to guide us. As a loving Father God awaits the opportunity to meet our needs, but we are not accustomed to receiving from His loving hand. Nor does it occur to us to pray. So we wander blindly from problem to problem, a sort of picture of those early settlers who starved in a land of plenty.

--King Duncan

What Would You Pay?

In the devotion today from "Our Daily Bread" the author tells the story of a man in communist Russia who didn't have a Bible and so every night he borrowed his friends Bible and laboriously copied it by hand from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. He then poses an interesting question, "Imagine not having access to a copy of the Bible. What price would you pay to get one?" How many of us have Bibles that simply take up space on the book shelf and collect dust? How many of us have had times when we were asked to bring a Bible had a difficult time locating ours? Have we lost the significance of the Bible?

In the gospel of John we hear a story about people who were following Jesus that stopped following him because they became offended by what Jesus was teaching. (Funny how we have kind of "Disneyfied" the gospel so that it is rarely offensive to anyone any more.) After a number of these people leave Jesus turns to the disciples and asks if they too are going to leave. To which Peter replies, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Jesus has the words of eternal life and those words can be found in the Bible. Yet on our shelves it sits, forgotten by many.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm just as guilty. There have been a number of times I've attended interdenominational church meetings and people from other churches showed up carrying Bibles. Why wouldn't they, they take them everywhere they go? I was embarrassed to admit I didn't even consider bringing my Bible, even though it was a church event. Why wouldn't I naturally bring my Bible with me at all times? If it contains the words of eternal life, is it not a priceless treasure?

I pray today that we would all thirst for the living water that is Christ. I pray that we would all hunger for the bread of life that satisfies. I pray that we would treasure Christ as the amazing gift that He is, and not let our Savior become something that is in the far backgound of our life.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Many of us are familiar with the hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." It's a wonderful song, a wonderful reminder of what a companion we have in Jesus. Yet, sometimes I feel I need more friendship than that, I need friends here in the flesh. Last night we had some friends over for dinner. It was good to have them over. It was a reminder of how we need friends. If there is one thing Dawn and I have struggled with in our move to Byron it would be loneliness. It takes time to make new friends in a new community. It feels like it takes even longer than it does because in the process you leave behind friends from where you moved. Such is life.

So I have been thinking about friends lately. I've been thinking an expression I've heard that says, "You have to be a friend to make a friend." So it was striking to me that the devotion today from "Our Daily Bread" was about friends (go ahead and read it, I think it was pretty good). They compared Daniel and Job's friends. Job's friends antagonized, while Daniels friends supported and strengthened one another in difficult times. So I will leave you with the questions today's author leaves us with, "What kind of friend are you?" Do you antagonize, or do you support and encourage friends in their faith. "Who needs you to be a friend today?"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A While

So it's been a while since I posted. It was somewhere before the trip to Boston. What a great trip that was, but it wore me out. Then I got out of practice and the ball kept dropping further and further. Soon this blog was nearly forgotten. However, I am here to attempt to resurrect my practice. The danger is I'll be going on vacation in a couple of weeks, then what is going to happen? Who knows? However, we'll take the new life now while we can get it.

Today I got to thinking about several things. With this quietness on the blog I was thinking about this near drought we've been experiencing and the rain we've received this morning. Isn't that how our lives go sometimes? We go through these dry periods and the grass in our life starts to turn brown and die. Fortunately, like grass, we are made tough and we will survive. We keep coming back to life. (Thanks be to God for that one) I wonder, though, if in the midst of a drought if we dump too much water on all at once if we'll burn as well?

I was thinking about the Good Samaritan in my devotion time. We often think of ourselves in terms of one of the men who passed by that poor, beaten man. I suppose in some ways we are. However, I also wonder if we're not also that poor, beaten victim. In life we will inevitably need to make decisions in our life and inevitably we're going to make the wrong choice at some point. When we do that does not Jesus then become the Good Samaritan for us, passing by to pick us up and cares for us unto healing? What a wonderful gift that is!

Why Are You Here?

Why Are You Here?

One day a couple by the name of Herman and Mary were riding along in their shiny new car. Mary spoke up and said, "You know, Herman, if it weren't for my money, we probably wouldn't have this wonderful new car." And Herman just sat there and didn't say anything at all.

As they pulled into the driveway, Herman turned off the motor and they quietly admired their new home. Then Mary said, "You know, Herman, if it weren't for my money, we probably wouldn't have this new house." And again, Herman just sat there and didn't say anything.

They got out of the car and walked in just as the delivery man finished setting up their new furniture. You know, Herman, said Mary once more, "If it were not for my money, we probably wouldn't have this new carpet and all this new furniture." And once more, Herman didn't say a word.

It happened again as they sat down in their new den and propped their feet up and watched the big screen TV in their new entertainment center. "You know, Herman," said Mary, "if it were not for my money, we probably wouldn't have this huge entertainment center."

And with that, poor Herman had had enough. He turned to Mary and said, "I don't want to hurt your feelings, Honey, but you know if it weren't for your money, I probably wouldn't be here either!"

What is it that brings you here? Why did you choose to become a part of this church? If you are not a member, what are you looking for in a church?

Maxie Dunnam, Collected Works,, 2006