Letting Go and Moving On

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. – 1 Corinthians 13:11

When was the last time you tried to break a habit, an old idea, a negative behavior pattern, or an unhealthy emotional recording from the past? It’s not easy! Even though you know you need to, even though you know it would be a good thing to do and will result in a healthier or happier state, it’s just a pain. And you’d rather live in the comfort of your misery, or so you think.

We often react like two year-olds whose parents are taking the bottle away. Tantrums, meltdowns, and tears always seem to be a part of the process.

What are you holding on to? What from the past are you hanging on to that you need to let go of? You know the things that tear you down and keep you from emotional health, but you just hang on to.

How many times has God given you the opportunity to give those things up because they keep you isolated and stuck, even poisoning your spirits? But it means letting go. There’s that “S” word again . . . surrender.

It takes a willing spirit. But you can walk in the victory that the Lord has already given you, if you choose it. Choose it today!

Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ. – A.W. Tozer

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Kings and Dancing

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19, Acts 13:16-23 and Mark 6:14-29

The preacher’s temptation is to take the easy way out and go on about the pros and cons of dancing. Perhaps we will touch on that since these dances in scripture are so vivid and have painful consequences.

The better choice is to see what is being said about kingly power, presence, and leadership. Both David and Herod are leaders in troubled times. Both have opportunities to set examples for their people and both succeed and both fail, miserably at times.

What our scriptures, especially the Acts text, want us to see and hear and point toward is that “Great David’s Greater Son” is the Final and Fully Righteous Victorious King! And works in kingly ways decidedly unlike David or Herod or Caesar for that matter!

Leadership is not for everyone, or certainly not leadership on the grand scale of a nation…..or that of the entire Universe! But this is the bold claim we offer in worship and in our daily walk with the Lord. We follow a different kind of King than ones we usually elect or those who force their way to power over others.

This truly sets us apart and asks us to consider ALL leadership in light of Jesus Christ. We always have to settle for imperfect leaders in the world but we have an ultimate standard by which we can watch and discern leadership and make judgments about following or not following earthly leaders where they lead us.

So in worship we proclaim who is our King and King for all! Citizens of a heavenly King take that kind of citizenship with them through the rest of their week!

Blessed be Great David’s Greater Son!

On toward Sunday and the Kingdom!

Blessings ~~†

Pastor Barry

Nothing To Prove

I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. – Job 42:2, 3, 5

Here’s a paradox for you. Those of you with a healthy sense of self are in the best position to exercise true humility. Why? Because the person with a healthy sense of self has nothing to prove. No agenda to push. No ego to shield. And no need to fret over what others think of you. When you encounter a problem that exceeds your knowledge, you admit without pretense that you don’t know the answer.

Sometimes we Christians can really fool ourselves. We think that since God is all knowledgeable and wise, and since we have His Holy Spirit within us, we should be able to dispense pearls of wisdom like spiritual gumballs. The truth is, the more we come to know God, the more we realize what we don’t know. And that’s O.K.!

The more we experience God’s grandeur and the more we understand our dignity as his sons and daughters, the lower we’ll bow before His throne—with nothing to prove and everything to gain.

My dad used to say, You wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of you if you knew how seldom they did. – Phillip McGraw

Chaplin Rob

Belonging

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21

In his classic novel, The Screw tape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes of the subtle way that prosperity knits a person’s heart to the world. Growing reputations, widening circles of acquaintances, a per¬ceived sense of importance, and the increasing pressure of absorb¬ing and agreeable work, argues Lewis, builds up in a person a sense of really being at home on earth. But while people are finding their place in the world, Lewis concludes that the world is finding its place in them.

The truth is each of us longs for a sense of belonging. It’s the way we’re designed, and it’s a good thing. But what the world has to offer is incapable of producing what we too often seek to find in it, so it can’t help but leave us disappointed.

Don’t become a collector of empty treasures in your search to find belonging. Possessing things that belong to you is no substitute for choosing to belong to God, and possessing eternal security in Christ.

No man can swim ashore and take his baggage with him. – Seneca the Younger

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Honestly Admitting Our Needs

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. – Matthew 7:9-11

Are you reluctant to ask for help? You’re definitely not alone. Too many of us are unwilling to admit we need help. We think it’s a sign of weakness. But it’s really a sign of pride and self-sufficiency, both which go against the grain of a healthy dependence upon God and the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives.

God wants to give you good things. He’s hoping you’ll humbly admit that you have needs. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Remember, God made us to relate to one another, to love one another. We weren’t made to live life alone. If you’re “the strong” one that is always lending a hand and seeing to it that others are taken care of, it’s hard for you to let someone know you need help, but it’s important that you do. We need more two way streets in our Christian community.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this, be smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it.

Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful. – Ric Ocasek

Chaplin Rob

What Thorn?

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 and Mark 6:1-13.

We will see David off to a great start as King! Verse 9 declared that “he became more and more powerful.” In contrast, Jesus gets off to a very rough beginning in ministry in his hometown! “They rejected him,” and he can do only a few healings. By the time we are reading about Paul in 2 Corinthians, we see that the greatest of Apostles cannot be rid of “a thorn in the flesh.” And he speaks of being “strongest when he is weak.” Such wide ranging expressions of living the faith give us pause! “Did I read that correctly?” “What about MY thorn in the flesh?”

It’s a good thing to be together in worship so we can be reminded, as we look around the pews, that most everyone has had moments of power like King David and moments that just seem like unrelenting “thorns” stuck in either the body, the mind, or the spirit!

Worship doesn’t always give us power or explanations for pain, but surely points us toward the Person who can and will provide both of those needs! Jesus had an unbelieving hometown turn away from him but by the end of the Mark passage his disciples ARE doing the ministry of preaching and healing!

So, the final word for us, in spite of the “thorns” and “weakness” is that we can expect (fully hope) to make it through and in doing so….we do the work of God. What a King, an Apostle, and Disciples of the Master actually do when “all is said and done!”

All good reasons to worship and be together this Sunday! See you soon! Blessings!

Pastor Barry

Faith and Understanding

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Upon returning from space, the Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titoy said, “Some people say there is a God out there…but in my travels around the earth all day long, I looked around and didn’t see Him…I saw no God nor angels. The rocket was made by our own people. I don’t believe in God. I believe in man, his strength, his possibilities, and his reason.”

Isn’t it amazing that at moments when we’re most vulnerable, and most clearly confronted with God’s majesty, we can be so unaware of His presence?

God is wiser than we can comprehend, more immense than we’re comfortable with, and merciful beyond the reaches of our imaginations.

Yet, He’s also the One through whom everything makes sense. So don’t mistakenly think that faith is the result of understanding. It’s the opposite. Faith is the basis for understanding.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right. – Max Lucado

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blessings to each of you!

Chaplain Rob

Binding Wounds, Preventing Wounds

2 Samuel 1:1, 16-27, 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 and Mark 5:21-43.

In these passages we see a number of experiences common to all: grief over death, illness and it’s healing and being generous with your resources. Needless to say, these experiences come during national times of crisis, e.g. war, epidemics, economic hard times, as well as to all of us throughout our life span.

Christ’s church is not immune from any yet leads the way in responding to all these human conditions. Where would we be without the church?! I suppose we would depend solely on the goodness of the state (!). If history teaches us anything, the human institution of the state is a very mixed bag! As we acknowledge July 4th we recall that a government became oppressive to the original 13 colonies. Governments can wage war and death on its people! And governments can, at their best, care for its citizens.

The church, however, heals not kills, gives and rarely receives in kind, and is not an instrument of death whether for evil or for justice. Jesus sets the example time and time again. Render unto God….render unto Caesar…..know the difference.

As we receive and celebrate the Lords Supper, Holy Communion we are reminded to do this in memory of the One Crucified, Dead, yet Alive! No force of nature, state, or fallen people can overcome God’s Righteous One who lives for others.

Come this Sunday for Word and Sacrament believing that Jesus is the generous, merciful Lord of life, conqueror of death, and Ruler of all nations!

Be blessed in this knowledge and in this faith!

Pastor Barry

Always Something

Opposition.  Antagonists. Enemies. The Empire.

Even on a personal scale, whether it be illness or injury, grief and loss, debt or financial woes, interpersonal conflicts, there seems to be THAT which we are “up against.”

In these scriptures, you find the memorable David versus the giant Goliath, Jesus against the angry sea waves, Paul recounting those who have opposed his ministry of the Good News of Jesus the Christ. Struggle. How we wish we were “at ease in Zion!” Those days are, for most of us, few and far between. There will “always be something.” It might be low from day to day on a scale of 1-10 but invariably the “10s” will arrive in life!

Perhaps we should come to worship each time with struggle in mind but ultimate peace hoped for. And maybe hope for peace and reconciliation in the daily mix! The church worships because we have faithful examples, e.g., David, Paul, believers in every generation, family and friends with us indicating God is still at work in our midst “calming the angry waves!” Even worship can be a struggle when your day has been darkened by forces against you. But, avoidance of the faithful community at worship is not the answer. To be together in our struggles IS the answer. We are stronger together than alone.

Come together this coming day of worship and find our way forward against whatever “giant” you and I and we are facing on the field of life!

Peace and hope~~!

Pastor Barry

What’s your Limp?

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. – Genesis 32:25

There’s a story in the Bible about Jacob wrestling with God, and as a result, God touched Jacob’s hip resulting in Jacob walking the rest of his days with a limp.

Have you wrestled with God? What’s your limp? Do you have a scar or a wound that you have hidden from the world? Note that God gave Jacob a limp. Unlike a scar or a wound, you can’t hide a limp. It shows whenever you get up and move around. I think God wanted Jacob to limp with pride. It was his battle scar.

What’s your battle scar? Have you accepted them for what they are and for the person they have made you? Have you allowed the pain of your wrestling match to grow you into a better, more compassionate person? Let God unfold more of His beauty and grace and love in your life. Would you have it any other way?
God will take the lowest of all and raise him up. He’ll take the weakest one and strengthen him. He’ll take the most insecure and fill him with courage. He’ll take the least and make him the most. All you have to do is let him.

So, whatever your limp is, walk with it and don’t deny it. It is who you are, and He is molding you into a masterpiece. You are who you are because of your painful past. God accepts you right where you are, limp and all. I hope you do, too.

Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.
– Billy Graham

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. – Rumi

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob