In Spite of The Dirty Lips, The Least, and The Sinful

Isaiah 6:1-8, I Corinthians 15:1-11 and Luke 5:1-11

We talk about determination. Such as an incredible quarterback like Tom Brady. A courageous woman like Rosa Parks in the segregated South of the Sixties. Max Cleland a triple amputee decorated veteran being elected to Congress. Determination.

In our scriptures we actually discover three who, in spite of their failures and self-condemnation, come up against a God who is determined to call them out and away from their guilt and low self-esteem and “employ” them for the work of the Kingdom! God’s determination sinks in to them and we get a prophet and two apostles!

God is determined to bring the best out of our worst. Yes, we are told to confess our sins but the next step is to not stay “stuck” in our confession but rather move forward in our “profession.” Profession in the two senses of “I profess Jesus Christ” but also the sense of A profession e.g. a calling, a call to personal mission and service. “Here I am Lord….send me!”

Sunday we will look in the mirror. Let’s pray we see both our worst selves and the self that God sees as a beloved friend ready to participate in God’s work here and now and bound in heaven for all eternity. “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”

Come out of any self-imposed negative view of yourself and view how God sees you! Sanctification as a happy, giving life shared together in worship, witness, and specific works YOU are called to! Eyes and ears and hearts open to God’s call and guidance!

Pastor Barry

Better Than a GPS

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.— I Corinthians 6:19

Every now and then, it seems that my GPS has a mind of its own. I’ll be driving on the freeway, going to a destination where I’ve never been before, and all of a sudden it tells me to turn right at the next off-ramp. It doesn’t make sense, but I turn right. Then it tells me to turn left, so I turn left. Then it brings me back to the freeway. What was that all about? It makes no sense at all.

The Lord gave the Israelites an amazing GPS system: a fire by night and a cloud by day. It was very simple. When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. At night when the fire moved, they moved. When the fire stopped, they stopped.

We might think, “I wish I could have that, because a lot of times I don’t know what I should do and where I should go. It would be so easy.”

As believers under the New Covenant, we have something better than a cloud or a fire. We have Christ Himself living in our hearts. This is only for the Christian who has believed in Jesus Christ. God takes residence in our hearts. We don’t need a fire in the sky. We have the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives, giving us the power to do what God has called us to do.

The Lord will lead us in the way that He wants us to go. Now, sometimes God’s will doesn’t make sense. Maybe we think God is trying to ruin all our fun. But in time we’ll realize that God knew what He was talking about all along.

A GPS isn’t always right, but God is always right. And God’s way is always the right way.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

A Super Bowl, A Groundhog, Rumspringa, and Holy Communion

Ecclesiastes 8:15; 9:7-10, I Corinthians 10:23-30 and Matthew 22:34-40.

One gathers to worship on Sunday. Yet, one knows that the other hours of the day offer a thousand other activities, routines, habits, works, leisure’s, and cultural diversities. Yes, we are in the world!

No generation of Christians goes without the need to consider their life as lived out in the culture of the day. Some remove themselves as much as possible e.g., Amish, questionable sects, while most live and move within the culture of entertainment, Super bowls, parties, diverse opinions and preferences for going about the day and week.

Jesus says “love God, neighbor and yourself.” Paul says, you have freedom, “but not all things are helpful, not all things are beneficial.”
From Ecclesiastes, in spite of all the writer’s concern for the passing away of all things, we are advised to “eat, drink, and be joyful.”

This Sunday’s hour of worship will hear these voices from the Scriptures and then celebrate together at The Table of the Lord. And in our culture many will then attend to the “Groundhog and weather, to the grand finale of football season, and ponder the meaning of what around us gives us joy and delight, peace and salvation.”

“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head!” (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Pastor Barry

Crippled by the Past?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.—2 Corinthians 5:17

On the television series Fixer Upper, which ran for five seasons, Chip and Joanna Gaines would choose an old house in Central Texas and give it a new beginning. Sometimes the house was for a young couple getting their first home, and sometimes it was for a retired couple looking for somewhere new. Joanna, the designer, came up with amazing plans, and her husband, Chip, the builder, implemented them. When they were finished, it was hard to believe that it was the same house.

Have you ever wished you could start over again, maybe in your marriage . . . maybe in your relationship with your children . . . maybe with friends? In a way you can, because 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (NKJV).

As the J.B. Phillips translation puts it, “For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new.”

God can do that for your life. You say, “It’s messed up. It’s broken down. It’s falling apart.”

It can become new and fresh in Jesus Christ. It tells us in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (NKJV). Notice it says all sin—not just some sin.

You, too, can have a new beginning. It can start now. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. It can all change because of the blood of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be crippled by your past anymore. You can put it behind you.

May you find new beginnings today!

Chaplain Rob

Set Free to Serve

But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you. – 1 Samuel 12:24

The great master artist Michelangelo once explained his creative process this way: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Michelangelo could look at a slate of stone and see what would come from it.

God looks at us and says, “I know what you can be. You don’t know it yet, but I know. I know what I can make you into. You’ll be a mighty man of God. You’ll be a mighty woman of God.”

It seems as though God goes out of His way to choose the most unexpected people. When God wanted to reach the people of Nineveh, He chose Jonah. Jonah, however, hated the Ninevites. He wanted God to kill them. So God effectively said, “Jonah, you’re the perfect guy to go preach to the Ninevites.” Jonah eventually obeyed God, and a great revival broke out.

When God was looking for a courageous man to free Israel from the oppression of the Midianites, He chose Gideon. Interestingly, Gideon happened to be hiding from the Midianites when an angel appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” (Judges 6:12 NLT). I think Gideon may have looked around and thought, “Is there another Gideon here?” If there’s anything Gideon was not at that moment, it was a mighty hero.

God doesn’t see us for what we are; He sees us for what we can become. He sees potential. God has a plan for each of us. He has given each of us gifts and talents and abilities and resources to use for His glory. But all too often, many of us are not doing that. And why aren’t we? We offer up excuses, never reasons. There is no good reason for us not to serve the Lord.

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

What Happens When You Read The Bible Out Loud

Nehemiah 8:1-10, I Corinthians 12:12-31 and Luke 4:14-30

Preaching is, of course, a form of public speaking. Reading and quoting scripture usually accompanies a sermon. And you can find a WIDE range of responses to any public proclamation!

One response is falling asleep and the old joke goes: Preacher: “Deacon Jones! Wake up brother Bob! He’s fallen asleep during this sermon! Deacon Jones: “You wake him up. You put him to sleep!”

In the Nehemiah passage, the reading of God’s law causes people to weep but then they are instructed to not weep, but to have “joy.” They are told to go eat and enjoy the time spent hearing God’s word.

And when Jesus reads the text in Isaiah the people have a wide range of emotions about the passage and who is doing the reading. This is in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown….and it doesn’t end well!

This Sunday in worship we will hope for responses “deep and wide “within us that carry over the rest of the week in our life together in community, at work, and in recreation and rest.

As Nehemiah 8:10 encourages, “Do not grieve (upon hearing the Word), for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” And for good measure also, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks.” Legends or O Charley’s!??

Be blessed in worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Your Gratitude Meter

Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:17–19, ESV).

It’s hard for us to imagine what this scene was like. Leprosy was miserable, highly contagious, and incurable. Lepers were called “unclean” and were quarantined. Alone—for the rest of their lives. At a distance, these ten lepers had desperately shouted to the Lord, “Master, have mercy on us” (17:13b).

And Jesus offered them healing. “When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests’” (17:14a). In order for them to be declared clean, they had to be examined by the priests to confirm their leprosy was gone.

Jesus didn’t pronounce healing; He required them to take action. “And as they went they were cleansed” (17:14b). First they started walking, then they were healed. Imagine how these men must have felt. The constant itch, fear, isolation, and torment of leprosy, then—BAM!—instant healing.

Which leads to the heart of the story. Nine of the ten continued on; just one turned back to Jesus, making this point: Only a fraction of people ever truly thank God for His grace. What a picture of enthusiasm and humility, as the thankful leper praised God with a loud voice and fell at the Lord’s feet. Jesus changed his life, and he was grateful.

“Where are the nine?” Jesus asked rhetorically (17:17b). Ten were healed. Nine were thankless. One was grateful. The distinction was not lost on Christ, and His question gives us piercing insight into how God feels.

By the world’s standards, we each have a life of incredible blessing, and the Lord is aware of the reading on our Gratitude Meters. He knows you, knows what He’s done for you, and has a clear reading of your thankfulness right now. God is very aware of your heart response to His grace.

When you choose an attitude of gratitude toward the Lord, something changes in your life. Jesus drew a distinction between the nine and the one: “your faith has made you well” (17:19b). Thankfulness led to wellness at a deeper level. All were healed physically; only one was healed spiritually.

Faith grows in the soil of thankfulness. In the life of the one, gratitude led to faith, which led to salvation.

So where would you fall in the pack of lepers? Some of us are in need of Jesus’ healing. Others have accepted His gifts without thanking Him. Still others are overflowing with gratitude, experiencing a wellness of soul that comes only through grateful faith.

My Prayer for each of you is that you will find something to be thankful for today!

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

The Path To Joy

In Your presence is fullness of Joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore!— Psalm 16:11

Throughout Scripture, we see how God used men and women in the corridors of power to influence leaders. Daniel was taken along with other Israelites into the captivity of Babylon, but he had great influence on King Nebuchadnezzar.

We know that Joseph had great influence on the Pharaoh. And Esther, because of her influence with King Ahasuerus, was able to save her entire nation.

As believers we should be asking, “Lord, where do you want me to be?” He may put you in a corridor of power. Or, He might have you laboring in relative obscurity. Wherever you are, you need to use your influence for His glory. Ask yourself, “Am I going to enjoy life in my own way, or am I going to employ my life serving God and others?” Serving the Lord is the most joyful thing you can do.

The psalmist David wrote, “In [His] presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). Those of us who serve the Lord have discovered a secret. Jesus said it very clearly: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NKJV).

Another way to translate blessed is “happy.” If you want to be a happy person, then be a giving person. If you want to be an unhappy person, then be a selfish person. If you want to be happy, then be generous. If you want to be miserable, then be stingy.

Be generous with everything God gives you. Be generous with your time. Be generous with your money. Be generous with whatever is at your disposal.

Are you going to enjoy your life or employ your life? If you employ your life for the glory of God, then you will enjoy your life as never before.

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Storm Preparation

For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. —Matthew 5:45

Have you ever been out and about when an unexpected storm hit? When I was a kid living in Hawaii, storms would come out of nowhere. Then as suddenly as the storm began, it would stop and the sun would come out again.

Some storms are big, even scary. We remember Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina, and more recently, Hurricane Michael. Storms can wreak havoc in our lives.

There are other kinds of storms we deal with in life, like a difficult or broken relationship, a financial crisis, legal problems, health problems, or conflicts at work. Storms will come into our lives, and once we accept that basic truth, it makes life a bit easier.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are going through a crisis, and those who are going to go through a crisis. If you’re between storms, enjoy it, because one will come your way soon enough.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of two men who built houses. One house was built on a faulty foundation of sand, while the other was built on a good foundation of stone. Jesus said of the house with the good foundation, “And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25 NKJV).

Notice Jesus said, “And the rain descended”—not if, but and. The rain will come. The Bible says that God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45 NKJV).

We don’t control our lives, as hard as we may try. But we can control what we’ll do and how we’ll respond when the storms come.

Chaplin Rob

What To Drink at a Wedding and Afterwards

Isaiah 62:1-5, I Corinthians 12:1-13 and John 2:1-11

Isaiah 62 and John 2 highlight the celebrations of marriage, of weddings, of the joy of committed relationships. I Corinthians 12 celebrates the gifts given to the Bridegroom the Church for the mutual benefit of all. And in verse 13, after the gifts are celebrated we are reminded we all “drink of one spirit.”

Yes, what do we drink at weddings and birthdays, celebrations of success, of graduation, of anniversaries and births, of grand moments along life’s way?! Behind the food and drink and party is the life giving drink of the Spirit….even if we are slow to name it, recognize it, believe it.

Jesus attends a wedding, keeps in the background as one of many guests, but helps out at just the right moment! Does that sound familiar to you? And the Church, the Body of Christ, is it not THERE with its many gifts to help you along the way to the final Heavenly Wedding Feast?!

Our texts tell of the Great Expectation of God’s Work, the Jesus Work, and the Church Work. Strange isn’t it that at its best, Christian life in community doesn’t feel like “work,” but like a Wedding Party with plenty of Spirit to drink!

At its best……..

Pastor Barry