Developing Trust

How do we let people know they can trust us? The first way would be to always do what we said. We don’t make promises we don’t keep. We keep everything we say and not just when we use the words, “I promise.” We try to not have conflicts, and we are careful to keep everything we say.
Some things we didn’t say, but they are scheduled or expected that we will do what we are supposed to do. When we become parents, we are to take care of our children. We didn’t say we promised but just the fact that we have children means we are the one to take care of them. It isn’t up to anyone else to be responsible for them not matter how much grandma tries. Whether we promised or not, it is something we can fulfill and be a blessing to them. Promises and respect are sometimes because of the position and responsibility we take.
Marriage, jobs, contracts, and other agreements all are part of this trust. If we do what we should, people will trust us even if there are no specific actions to follow. Others may trust us because of the way we do our job, treat our family, and keep our agreements. We can accept the responsibility and the better we are at filling that responsibility, the more trust and respect we gain. We may be doing much more than was we thought was promised and that gains more respect.
Did we make a promise to God when we became a Christian? Certainly, there are promises God made, and for us to be part of that promise there are some thing we would need to do to make that promise the best. When people see our Christian life, they see how we are part of the promise of God. We have responsibilities with that promise. If we are responsible in our worship and care of others it will show we can be trusted by God and others. If we claim some things are not necessary and we aren’t going to do them it doesn’t diminish God, it diminishes how God and others will trust us.
Friday, September 18, 2020




Worth Keeping

We have noticed that things don’t last as long as they used to. The expectation and life expectancy of appliance, houses, cars and most anything we buy is fairly short. Many things are not mean to be fixed or repaired when the battery goes out. They are meant to be replaced by a new one. We don’t build things to last, we expect them to become obsolete and that a new better model will be offered rather than doing the same thing the old one did. We know the technology will be improved in the next few years. We want it faster, better and cheaper; we don’t want it to last forever.
If we are not happy with the one we have we can just get a new one. Unfortunately, that has come to mean friends and relationships that were meant to be long term. We seldom say “till death do us part” on anything. We aren’t going to live in the same house or keep the same job all our life. We may not even keep the same family. The time of working for one company until retirement is gone. Companies don’t want that and neither do employees.
It has also changed the way we see church. We don’t think of staying at the same congregation for our whole life. People are more willing to try different groups than they were before. That may mean we have a better opportunity to reach more people since they are more open. It also means we need to have something for them. What doesn’t change is Jesus. People devoted to Jesus should not change. We may not stay with the same congregation but our devotion to Jesus and to the word of God should remain the same. There is not a better savior.
The church is the people that Jesus died for as they follow Jesus and fulfill his word. For people to be part of the church they must have Jesus as their savior, but we also have to have something good of which they can be part. Each congregation described in scripture looks like and exciting place. The word of God is taught and worship with some of those early Christians must have been amazing. We are those Christians who find the power of grace and the word of God shared can be an amazing time of worship. In this time of change we have something worth keeping.
Friday, September 11, 2020


Our Personal Savior

Christianity has always been personal, but now the emphasis is about it being personal. Several years ago, the question was whether Jesus was our personal savior. The trend was to make Jesus our personal savior in a different way from him being savior to everyone else. Having Jesus as our savior is personal, but it must be done the same way for every single person. Jesus does not change his mind and allow some people to be saved one way while completely overlooking some behavior and activities of others. It always takes repentance, baptism and discipleship for every person.
Worship has changed to include more options in recent times with the precautions of spreading a virus. Now we are participating in worship online. We are in zoom classes or just left with a video to watch. Worship is personal because we can do it any way we want. We are left to decide which way to do worship and make it meaningful to us. Attendance at a build was always the way worship was to be done before but now that same worship can be done at home or in another location. Sometimes families or small groups gather to worship. Some will be alone and watch worship streamed. Some type comments to each other as they watch an online presentation. 
Some complained before about the corporate worship for different reasons. The question becomes, “Is it better now that we are responsible for the logistics of our worship?” Have we been able to find a much more personal worship of Jesus? Is our learning more personal now that we choose our Bible study? We have the opportunity to see tremendous growth in individuals because there are more tools available. Either that or we can ignore everything because no one is forcing us to do it a certain way.
Does greater freedom bring greater growth? Some now will watch several sources for their worship on Sunday. Some may not engage at all. When we do come back together will the church Jesus is building be stronger or weaker? Will we be more personal about our salvation or will we be apathetic? Jesus tells a parable of three servants given an amount from the master to use while the master is gone. (Matt. 25:14-30) Two of them invest and gain more. One of them is afraid and does nothing. Each one is personally responsible for what happens with the master’s gift. Will we do better when we can be responsible for our own development?
Friday, September 4, 2020



When we travel we have a destination in mind. Most of the time we are not just wandering and looking whatever we can find. We have a specific time table to arrive at a specific destination and we are usually a little behind, and so we rush. We don’t have time to stop and see everything and usually we just rush on toward our destination not thinking about he missed opportunities. We pass by so many things just because we are trying to get somewhere at a specific time.
As Jesus travelled from Jerusalem to Galilee he met people along the way. He noticed some that were suffering but many just came to Jesus to tell him of their faith in what he could do for them. They told him about sickness and troubles within their families. They were willing to talk about what was really wrong. They believed he could heal and he healed everyone that asked. He also taught many that were not sick but needed to know how to live better. They needed to know how to get along with each other and become better people who were closer to God.
Jesus noticed people. He was not in a hurry to get to a destination and missing people all along the way. He was not responsible for the people he didn’t meet, but he helped everyone who came to him. He took time for people. He knew where his final destination would be and he did as much good as he could along the way. He lived as an example to us. He knew about the cross and yet he did not let it consume him. He used what was coming to prepare his disciples to handle a difficult future by living each moment.
We all have a final destination, but what is most important is what we do along the way. Some people just lived for themselves.  People won’t seek us out like they did Jesus, but we still cross paths with many. Even if they are behind a mask it just means they are coping with the new disease. We can show the comfort and peace of Jesus. It is not about what might happen but how we treat people now that matters. We all face the same struggles of this life. Some do it better than others. Jesus showed us how to find the glory of God in the present distress. We can follow Jesus along the journey to an amazing destination with God.
Friday, August 21, 2020


Giving God a Compliment

How to we show appreciation to someone? If you are in a restaurant and get excellent service, we would show it with a tip. Compliments are given when someone does something well. We tell them what a good job they did especially if they are only 3 years old and have a new masterpiece for the fridge. The younger and more inexperience they are, the more we can tell them how well they are doing. We have a harder time if people are better at doing something on our level. When we get used to something, we don’t give compliments as easy. We have dinner every night and the recipes are not that varied, so we don’t give many compliments. “Just as good as last week,” is not really a compliment. If we do say how much we like it this week then we get questioned about why it hasn’t been good before.
Is it easy to give God a compliment? It is easy when we see a beautiful sunset or something unusual. Sunsets and sunrises come every day, but they aren’t the same. The clouds and light are different. When it is the same thing it becomes harder to express our gratitude. We are thankful for grace, redemption and forgiveness but are we more thankful today than we were last year? We can’t see those but there are times when we feel forgiven, and other days we just feel rushed.
God calls it worship. He asks for worship. Jesus even tells a Samaritan woman that God is seeking people to worship him. From the beginning people were involved in worship. We have regulations from the commandments given to Moses about worship. It has been the custom of people to come to worship and take the Lord’s supper since the beginning of the church. Praise was given to God for his protection and care. When they were threatened, they gathered together for prayer and to talk to God. Everything has been about worship to God for what he has done for us.
Since there has been so much about worship for so long why are we not better at it? After this many years and so much being written and taught, we would think that we should be experts. Yet we find ourselves faltering in our expression of praise and adoration. Maybe because it is so familiar, we don’t let it sink in and think about a way to express the meaning we know is there. Jesus doesn’t need a “Tip,” or a “Thanks,” but a genuine expression of praise. Find a way this week to feel the overwhelming love and grace of God and be able to say it back to him.
Friday, August 14, 2020


Worth the Price

How much does it cost? The chief priests must have discussed it at some point. Jesus had become such a problem to them. They could not take away his popularity with insults or traps. They had tried. They had sent their best lawyers and scholars to trap Jesus in his words. Jesus had always had an answer and their people had looked foolish. How would they remove Jesus? Since no legal or easy way was possible, they considered the cost of violence. It is usually a last resort, but it can be very effective.
Judas knew they were wanting an opportunity to deal with Jesus in private. They couldn’t find a time where he was not in front of the crowd and they certainly didn’t want witnesses for what they planned. Judas was with him all the time and could provide that information. It wasn’t like he would be part of the violence; he was simply offering access. Is it a sin just to let them know where they can find someone? They would figure it out eventually. He was given thirty pieces of silver before the event even happened. It was the only money that changed hands.
Thirty pieces of silver for a kiss. Judas would lead the solders into Jesus place of prayer. It cost the conscience of the chief priests and scribes. It cost the salvation of Judas and the condemnation of Pilate. The conscience and reason of the people disappeared as they shouted to crucify Jesus. They could not claim innocence or ignorance of the death of Jesus.
What is the cost of a relationship? It is not in the money that changes hands. It is more about the trust that develops and the honesty between people. The price is measured in time and attention invested. The price for Jesus was his death on a cross for the sins of the people. Jesus called disciples to follow him. They left their homes, and jobs in order to follow him. They would become Christians that told the world about the price of redemption. It is not thirty pieces of silver. It costs all you have and gives you redemption, adoption, forgiveness, grace and eternal life in heaven with God. Is it worth the price?   
Friday, August 7, 2020


Somewhere We Have Never Been

It is always exciting to go somewhere we have never been. We get tired of the same old scenes around us. It seems ordinary. We get tired of each other. We need something new or a new adventure to do together. The same things done the same way at the same time everyday can be tedious after a while. We were so excited at first because it was new, but now it has become ordinary.
One answer is to always go after the next big adventure or to move on to the next exciting person, but that leaves us empty. A better way is to appreciate what we have. To look at the bigger picture to know what we like. There is a reason we are here, and that is we chose it. We wanted it. If we think about it, we may recognize it is exactly where we should be doing something very important, but aware of what is next.
Each new day brings the same challenges and a few possibilities. If we just do what we have to, then we will do the same things or maybe a little less. If we meet the daily challenges and act on possibilities, we will always have something new. The gospel includes the teaching of Jesus but also the people he met along the way. Each one is different. Each one has a unique story. One more person is added to his kingdom.
Leaders are looking for the next thing. All the challenges need to be met but there is always one thing new. God made a world that always changes. He made people that are always meeting new challenges. His church is made up of new people working together to grow his kingdom. We live in a different world as we become better people. We are never looking to be the same thing we have been, but to see where Jesus is leading as we follow him. John talks about walking in the light as he (Jesus) is in the light. (1John 1:7) It is not sitting or staying… but the idea of a journey. We are all moving toward somewhere we have never been.
Friday, July 31, 2020


Focused Leadership

Good leaders are hard to find. Especially when we are the ones asking to be led. We are trying to find someone smarter than we are who can lead us where we need to be. We hope they don’t get distracted if we complain and want something not good for us. We want them to believe in God and put God first. We want them to insist on doing what God wants and know how to convince us to go there.
Jesus is our king. We follow him in all that he says. We try to live up to his example by living and reacting the way he did. We submit to his authority and we take on his mission. Jesus lived among people who either worshiped him or wanted to kill him. He understood there would be opposition. He knew there would be difficulties because of the change he was bringing. He was acting on God’s initiative in what he taught and what he did.
There are so many distractions in our world right now. There are many opinions, and everyone seems to have one different from ours. God wants the same things he has always wanted. Christianity is not different from the days of the disciples. We all follow Jesus and obey his words. We are tempted to let the situation influence our core beliefs. Jesus is still the one we follow regardless of the issues that swirl around us.
A leader in Christ will call us to focus on the mission of Jesus. We will be in the Father’s house and about the father’s work. Even when it doesn’t fit the normal activity we have done in the past. (Luke 2:49) We will know we must obey God rather than men. No matter what others tell us we will always look to the mission of God. (Acts 5:29)  We will believe and know that God can do all things, but realize we need help with our unbelief at the same time. (Mark 9:24) We will admit things are confusing and we don’t understand all that God does. We will know that Jesus is going somewhere dangerous, and we will go with him even if it means we die also. (John 11:16)  Jesus calls us to follow him. We could use others to help us get there. People who have a clear vision of what God wants. May we be focused in our faith on the cross of Jesus.
Friday, July 17, 2020


Asking a Favor

What would we ask of someone else? Would we ask them to get us a drink since they are up already? It seems like a normal request without much complication. It might be as simple as getting a can out of the refrigerator when they already have the door open. The more personal the request, the harder time we have. Would you give me your drink,” is a different question than just getting a drink. “Can I stay for dinner,” is different than, “Would you give me your dinner”. The first one is just setting another plate, but the second means you will go without.
It is easier to give away what belongs to someone else than when it is really precious to us. There are many times when we pool our resources and give away things that come from all of us. We all contributed and now we are able to help. We have much more when we gather it all and people can donate to help others. We give what we feel comfortable giving.
When Jesus calls disciples it is personal. One time they are mending or washing nets and they leave everything to follow him. The nets still need to be washed and mended but we don’t like doing things like that. Another time is when the nets are full of fish and he calls them to walk away from a catch. When they follow Jesus, they will give up time with family and jobs to do something Jesus wants. We see the interaction Jesus has with people is personal. If the blessings are personal wouldn’t the obedience to God be personal also?
When Jesus heals, we assume there is a great unlimited power he has that allows him to heal without personal cost. It isn’t that it hurts God in any way or diminishes his power. When Jesus is crucified it is different. It is not some great power of grace that has an endless depth. It is personal. His gift comes from his pain and suffering for us. He faces death and pays the price for us in his death so he can give us eternal life. Our response can be no less personal. What would you give up for someone who has given us so great a gift? When we give grace to someone else it is going to cost us. It is not comfortable. When we think of what God has given us how could we do anything different.
Friday, July 10, 2020


Serve Like Jesus

Some people will do whatever they are asked to do. They are always willing to help and make life easier for someone else. Others will help if you give them a good reason to help. We can ask them to help but we will need to explain the need and why it is important. Some are willing to help for a reason and they also need to know that it is specific to them and not just because no one else is willing. Some are willing to do their fair share. Their fair share means just a little bit less than everyone else. They are willing to help but they don’t want to be stuck with more than everyone else. Some are only willing to help if we can’t find anyone else. They would rather someone else do it but if there is no one else, then they will help. Some will serve even when they don’t want to and will let everyone know how much they don’t want to do it.
Which one of those is the servant Jesus was talking about? Jesus claimed he came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45) Jesus is a servant because he does something for others at his expense. He teaches his disciples to be servants. Their initial serving is for their advantage. If they can gain some power or influence, then they are willing to serve.
Jesus answer about being a servant is in response to them asking about places of honor. Can they sit in positions of prestige and power in the new kingdom? When Jesus asks them what they are willing to do to gain such an advantage they insist they are able to do anything required. Doesn’t that seem a little bit backward? A servant then is someone who will act on behalf of others if he gets a reward for it? He is serving others, but it is in order to gain advantage for himself.
Jesus comes to give advantage to us. He knows that it will take suffering on his part to give us grace. We have defined who is a servant in terms of the task rather than the people. Who ever is willing to do anything is considered a servant because they did something. When we define a servant as doing anything even for our own benefit, we have lost the concept Jesus was teaching. Only when we serve like Jesus can we be his disciples.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020