Manna, Home Grown Produce, Starvation, Fatted Calf

Joshua 5:9-12, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and Luke 15:1-3b; 11-32

It would be difficult to either wander in a wilderness for years or to leave home, blow your inheritance in a foreign country and starve. The Joshua text and the Luke text tell us of familiar bible passages many have heard throughout a lifetime. Great human moments of change and transition under the Providence of God. At the very least these are stories about God’s long term care plan! And Paul in 2 Corinthians goes about reminding everyone of this and celebrating the ultimate coming to fulfillment of God’s “care plan!”

The parable of the Two sons has lots of drama and a twist or two! We should wonder a bit how it was heard by first century hearers and how it is heard today some 2000 years later!

Read ahead and ask yourself, “What is God saying to me and to others around me?” And which passage says the most about the course of your life, your attitudes, your hopes up to this day? Wilderness Manna or produce from the Promised Land? A Prodigal Son or the Angry Brother? An Old Creation or a New Creation?

Consider as you worship God this last weekend in March 2019!


Pastor Barry

Don’t Neglect Divine Mercy

Isaiah 55:1-9, I Corinthians 10:1-13 and Luke 13:1-9

WC Fields was a comedian in the first half of the Twentieth century known for his juggling, insult comedy, and movie roles. He often played scoundrels and had said of him (in jest) that “someone who didn’t like dogs and children wasn’t such a bad fellow!” One of the memorable lines he said was when someone found him reading the Bible alone, Fields famously noted he “was looking for loopholes.”

Excuses about and neglect of God’s wisdom and guidance for the church is what our texts speak about this Sunday. Deliberate neglect of walking in faith has consequences say both Jesus and Paul. They both site destruction as the possibilities and outcome of continuing to live as though God had not had mercy upon them and always intended a better life than the one people tended to pursue. We all look for loopholes when we catch ourselves taking a good hard look at the life we are living; a life often of spiritual neglect and lack of commitment.

Gods unmerited favor (Grace) does rest upon us by faith. How often though is our response one of taking such Grace for granted? Or worse one of open rebellion in spite of Grace?! Let us keep in mind that of the three scriptures cited it is the Old Testament prophet Isaiah that encourages us sinners most by emphasizing the mercy of God in spite of our misbehavior! And certainly Grace is present in the Luke and Corinthians texts, but just not as apparent in contrast to the deep seated sin we find ourselves continuing to give in to.

Perhaps difficult scriptures to address, to hear, to accept, but still we learn from them for our very good, for the constant “renewing of our hearts and minds.”

May it be so! Blessings in our time together in worship and fellowship!

Pastor Barry

Pray Instead

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.—Philippians 4:6

I was on the road the other day and saw a car up ahead with student driver signs on both sides, on the roof, and on the back. I gave wide berth to that car, because I knew they didn’t know what they were doing yet. And sure enough, as they were driving along, they stopped for no apparent reason. I give student drivers a lot of space because they’re still figuring it out.

But after we’ve been driving awhile, we may find ourselves eating a burrito, talking on the phone, and adjusting the radio, all at the same time. I don’t recommend this, of course. But the idea is that driving comes naturally to us because we’ve taught ourselves to do it. It becomes a conditioned reflex.

Then there are natural reflexes. If we touch something hot, we immediately pull back. We don’t have to teach this, even to a toddler. They know that when they touch something hot, it hurts.

When it comes to worry, we need to develop a conditioned reflex. We need to turn our worries into prayers. When something alarming or threatening comes our way, our natural reflex is to panic. The conditioned reflex—the biblical response, I might add—is to pray.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). Notice that he tells us to pray about everything—not just the big, scary things. Everything.

God is interested in big things. God is interested in little things. And sometimes little things turn into big things rather quickly, don’t they? Little problems can suddenly become big problems. God is interested in whatever concerns you. So the next time you’re tempted to worry, pray instead.

May you take all your worries today to God!


Chaplain Rob

A Fox, A Hen, and Snakes

Genesis 15:1-18, Philippians 3:17-4:1 and Luke. 13:31-35

Interestingly enough, this Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Tradition has us wearing green and thinking about the Saint running the snakes out of Ireland. But our Luke text has more to do with a fox, a hen and Jesus almost “seeing red” in anger over Herod and Jerusalem’s treatment of prophets. Where power accumulates, such as in cities, God sends prophets and finally a Savior to address the issues of misuse of power. God’s promise to “deal with” that which opposes Gods rule or reign over all things goes back to even the Genesis text where God promises Abraham there is a future of descendants for him even though he is childless at an old age.

In a Fallen world God has to be about making good on the “bad” and on our misuse of freedom and power. God allows bad things to happen to people but provides a way of healing, recovery, and new hope.

Yes, St. Patrick had a rough start being kidnapped out of Britain into slavery in Ireland but after escaping he returns to Ireland years later as a missionary making good out of a bad beginning.

Our hope is that God is always about a better future when the present and past make us doubt and lose hope. Abraham, Paul, and Jesus are all recipients of God’s promises. We here today are also claimed by the God who goes about making promises to make “all things new.”

Be blessed whether an Irish Blessing or some other blessing!

Pastor Barry

Nothing is Impossible

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. – Mark 10:27

Are you facing a situation that looks impossible to fix?

In 1969, the pollution along the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, Ohio was terrible. It was unimaginable that it could ever be cleaned up. The river was so polluted that it actually caught fire and burned. Now, years later, this river is one of the outstanding examples of environmental cleanup.

But the river wasn’t changed in a few days or a few months. It took years of work to build new sewage plants and reduce the industrial pollution. Eventually, that hard work paid off and now the water in the river is cleaner than ever.

Maybe you are facing an impossible situation. Maybe you have a habit that is driving your family crazy. Possibly you drink too much or don’t know how to control your credit card use. When you face such an impossible situation, don’t you want a quick fix and something to change immediately?

While God can perform miracles and instantly remove your desire or a struggle you are having, for most of us the changes are gradual and involve a lot of effort and work . . . like cleaning up a polluted river.

I challenge you today as you are facing your difficulties to put them in God’s hands and trust in his timing.


Chaplain Rob

Tempted By Distraction!

Psalm 91:9-16, Romans 10:8b-13 and Luke 4:1-13.

Jesus being tempted in the wilderness is a familiar Bible story. Our Lord seems very human, like us, if he was susceptible to reach for power over things and conditions of the earth! Who wouldn’t like the power to be protected from harm and the power to always have what you need?! And in such a distracted state of mind and body: hungry, alone, and pondering “what next!”. But Jesus was single minded in that he was in the wilderness to worship God alone.

Worship is the thing that mattered most. Devotion to the Source of all that exists! All else would then follow from that devotion. And Jesus was so “close” to God that it was clear the Devil knew Jesus had access to all power to meet his needs and to command the universe to obey Him.

In our wilderness times we do have needs but don’t always have the power to meet or overcome the needs. What do we do and to what do we aspire to use to get what we need? Is true worship and devotion all we ultimately need?

We will look in a bit closer to Jesus in the wilderness and to Paul who declares what we really need on this first Sunday in Lent, that Forty Days leading to Easter the fulfillment of all God’s intentions for us! “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” Romans 8:13.

Be there! Don’t be “tempted” to stay away!

Blessings for the Lenten journey!

Pastor Barry