Freedom From or Freedom For?

II Kings 2:1-14, Galatians 5:1, 13-25 and Luke 9:51-62

Freedom is “as American as motherhood and apple pie” goes the familiar slogan. Freedom gets a lot of press around July 4th and rightly so. The USA came about only as the colonists said “no more” to British rule. It was such a serious matter that Patrick Henry could make such a memorable statement as “give me liberty or give me death!”

From the American Revolution we have a sense that freedom is a supreme value. We should not overlook the value of freedom in our Scriptures from the Hebrews freedom from the oppressive Egyptian Pharaoh to Paul’s call to be set free in Christ.

But, we ask, “freedom from something or freedom for something?” The Bible says both. This Sunday we will celebrate and explore what Elisha, Paul and Jesus would have us hear about “freedom from and freedom for.” Don’t be surprised if freedom somehow has to do with following someone! The questions might be about “who, to where, for what?!”

See you this last Sunday before July 4th!

Pastor Barry

After the Storm, the Demons, the Law

I Kings 19:1-15a, Galatians 3:23-29 and Luke 8:26-39

I believe I would have left town as did Elijah! The queen Jezebel has made a definite threat on his life. Whatever power a prophet feels in his heart was not at play in this case! Time to flee not a time to fight! By the time Elijah has finished his time on the run, he is faced with another challenge only this time it is a question from God!

Most of us come to God during a stormy stretch in our life seeking a word of comfort or strength. What we often get from God is a question not so much an answer.

Paul receives the same when on the road to Damascus God challenges him with a question also. In the Galatians text Paul is responding to the questions he finally asks as a faithful law keeping Pharisee. And in our other text Jesus enters into both question and answers with the demons within a possessed man.

These are exciting scriptures we have before us this Sunday. And more questions, it seems, are raised rather than easy answers. But the questions, I think, are profound and invigorating to faith as much as a bold direct answer can be.

Whatever the storm, whatever the challenge, whatever the urgent change in our lives, God is making a way for us. Often the way forward is simply asking more questions. Then the surprise is we move ahead anyway even without all the answers!

The challenges and storms will come.

Keep asking~~~

Pastor Barry

God Will Guide Us

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. – Psalm 37:23-24

We’ve all watched a mom walking with her toddler, holding his hand. Suddenly something catches the little guy’s attention, and he pulls his hand away. More often than not, he quickly gets into something he shouldn’t. He might even stumble and land flat on his face—something that would never happen if his mom had his hand.

What a great picture of the way we are with God. He seeks to hold our hand and guide us, but we are stubbornly determined to go off on our own. Instead of letting our loving Father direct our steps, we toddle off and get ourselves into trouble.

The other part of this passage that is special is the fact that God delights “in every detail” of our lives. It’s like the loving grandfather who listens to his little grandchild prattle on about something that happened to her. He may know all about it, but he still enjoys listening. Why? Because she’s his and he loves her dearly.

Ask Yourself
Describe some times when you pull your hand away from God. What typically diverts your attention?

As a child, did you know anyone who delighted in every detail of your life? How does this affect your ability to experience God’s love?

Ask God
Lord, it’s hard for me to believe you are interested in the details of my life, let alone that you delight in them. Help me to understand that and to spend more time talking with you about everything. And remind me always that my life goes better when I keep my hand in yours.


Chaplain Rob

Do Something Different

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. – Matthew 16:25

In this Matthew passage, Jesus expresses a profound truth as a paradox—a seemingly self-contradictory statement that proves true upon further examination. Jesus is saying that if we hold too tightly to something, we will lose it.

We are all too familiar with the paradox that sometimes the harder we try to change our lives, the more stubbornly they refuse to change. In such situations, instead of just trying harder, we must be willing to try something different.

This doesn’t mean giving up. It just means trying a new tactic—maybe even doing the opposite of what we’ve been doing.

Try that the next time you encounter a familiar but uncomfortable situation. Instead of reacting the usual way—lashing out, clamming up, or pretending to be all right with something when you’re not—try to take a mental step back. Take a deep breath. Say a little prayer. Then deliberately do something different. Walk away. Speak up. Say no.

Try it just this once. For a change.

Ask Yourself
Is there a stubborn issue in your life that seems to resist every effort at changing? Brainstorm some different tactics for responding to this issue.

What internal arguments hold you back from trying something new in response to a painful stimulus?

Ask God
Lord, I need you so much in this process of breaking free from reactive patterns in my life. Help me loosen my grip on old habits and trust you enough to try something completely different. Help me better understand why I do what I do, and deliver me from my reactive lifestyle.


Chaplain Rob

Wisdom, Suffering, and The Trinity

Proverbs 8:1-4; 22-31, Romans 5:1-5 and John 16:12-15

Religion in the broadest sense tends to offer wisdom on many matters. And no religion can avoid deep questions about suffering. In Christian Faith we have the revelation of God as Trinity—-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A Trinitarian idea of God has to include some notion of suffering since Jesus ,God the Son, suffers and dies!

And what better Sunday to address this head on than Father’s Day and Trinity Sunday both arriving on June 16. Our message will say something “wise” about fatherhood both earthy and heavenly. And suffering too will be explored especially as we read Romans 5:1-5 as the end result of suffering produces a number of virtues, e.g. endurance and character, which can often be seen in the experience of parenthood!

From our parents and families we first receive an awareness of what it is to be “wise” and to endure suffering. The Bible takes this quite seriously and places it before us when scripture “talks” about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in relationship and in impacting us in our journey from birth to death.

So, come this Sunday with thoughts of those who have behaved wisely. Come with thoughts and memories of fathers and their kind. Come seeking wisdom and ways to help endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune!”

Come to worship. And in doing so…..find some wisdom for your week!

Pastor Barry

A Closer Top Ten Walk

Genesis 11:1-9, Acts 2:1-21 and John 14:16,17

Pentecost Sunday. The Church does what it does because of being “filled with the Spirit.” It’s hard to get anything done without a motivating Spirit!

Motivation! A team is motivated because it would rather be a winner than loser. An artist is “enthused” to create a work of art to enjoy and that might last a long time. A startup company is motivated to succeed by a desire to make money and its pride in its product.

What are things in church life that inspire us?! Most every Christian begins their Top Ten List by saying “Jesus and what God has done for me/us through Jesus!” After that the list could include hundreds of “spiritual items” that vary in importance according to the person.

This Sunday we will worship and give thanks for those “gifts from the Spirit” which unite us in mission, service, and love for God and neighbor. So, consider in your heart a Top Ten (plus) List of gifts (and fruits of) the Holy Spirit in your life as we gather as “spirit filled Christians” to worship the Giver of all good gifts!

Be blessed!

Pastor Barry

Reality Can Hurt

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:7-8

Discomfort, pain, conflict, spiritual warfare-these are aspects of reality in a fallen world. Healthy faith recognizes them as biblical realities. Healthy faith has you look to Christ for help when you’re in the midst of them.

Having a healthy faith certainly doesn’t mean you’ll always like reality, or that you should become complacent or indifferent to the darker side of life. But it does mean you’ll recognize the way things are. You’ll be able to admit you’ve failed, that you’re a sinner, and you’re stumbling along the way. But you can choose to walk in the light, and enjoy the companionship of family, friends and Jesus Christ himself.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

Father, help me face my realities with faith and hope with the understanding that while today might not be all I hoped it would be, tomorrow and all my tomorrows are in Your hands. Thank you, Lord for your faithfulness! Amen.


Chaplain Rob

The Art of Acceptance

Come to terms with God and be at peace; in this way good will come to you. – Job 22:21

Sometimes, we must accept life on its terms, not our own. Life has a way of unfolding, not as we will, but as it will. And sometimes, there is precious little we can do to change things.

When events transpire that are beyond our control, we have a choice: we can either learn the art of acceptance, or we can make ourselves miserable as we struggle to change the unchangeable.

We must entrust the things we cannot change to God. Once we have done so, we can prayerfully and faithfully tackle the important work that He has placed before us: doing something about the things we can change . . . and doing it sooner rather than later.

Can you summon the courage and the wisdom to accept life on its own terms? If so, you’ll most certainly be rewarded for your good judgment.

Surrender to the Lord is not a tremendous sacrifice, not an agonizing performance. It is the most sensible thing you can do. – Corrie Ten Boom

He does not need to transplant us into a different field. He transforms the very things that were before our greatest hindrances, into the chief and most blessed means of our growth. No difficulties in your case can baffle Him. Put yourself absolutely into His hands, and let Him have His own way with you. – Elisabeth Elliot

Ultimately things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out. – Barbara Johnson

My prayer today is that all of us will be able to accept life on life’s terms

Chaplain Rob

Fields of Change

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. – Hosea 10:12

Character isn’t instantly created. It’s carved out.

To God, our lives are like a series of fields that need working. Once one has been worked, we move to the next. At each stop He encourages us to get busy tilling ground hardened by sin, pulling weeds grown in neglect, and planting seeds of biblical truth. He makes us willing and able for the work; and He makes each task fruitful through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But change does happen. The Bible gives us insight how. Think of Joseph in an Egyptian jail, and Moses in the desert. Recall David’s years of flight from Saul and Jonah’s time in the belly of a fish. Reflect upon Gideon in a cave and Job’s catastrophes. Consider Abraham’s wanderings and Peter’s three denials of Christ. Look at the apostle Paul’s blinding encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus.

These stories, and many more like them, recount the ways of God among the men He claims for His own. As you spend time considering them, you will see a pattern emerge: brokenness, humility, and the learning of patience all come before spiritual maturity and usefulness. Open up your Bible and search out these stories. Learn from them. They demonstrate the pattern of change for your own life in Christ.

Our days are a kaleidoscope. Every instant a change takes place. New harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations of every sort. The most familiar people stand each moment in some new relation to each other, to their work, to surrounding objects. – Henry Ward Beecher

Lord, when change comes, I pray that I will look to you for insight. As things change in my life and around me, help me to keep my eyes on you and trust that whatever the circumstance, your ultimate plan for me is a good one. Amen


Chaplain Rob