July 14, 2021 – Navigating the Storms

Menominee, MI, North Pier lighthouse.

What I Read Today;

Romans 14, Matthew 14, Isaiah 14, Job 14, Joshua 14, Genesis 14

Today in Matthew 14, we read the story of Jesus walking on water and Peter sinking like a rock.  We like to focus on Peter’s failure, but I think there is a part of the story that we miss.

In 1991 my family and I were stationed at KI Sawyer AFB in Gwinn, Michigan.  We spent a lot of time traveling from Gwinn to our parents’ homes in southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. We would drive Michigan’s state highway M-35 until we reached US Highway 41, which would take us through Escanaba, Michigan, along Lake Michigan until we reached Green Bay, Wisconsin.  

Scattered along the Michigan coastline, you will find several lighthouses.  Some are even still in use today.  In days before Sonar and GPS, these lighthouses would provide a beacon that would prevent sailors from running their ships aground and a guide to lead them safely to a dock. 

Navigating the raging storms on the Great Lakes can be extremely dangerous.  During these dark and stormy nights, sailors would be on the lookout for these beacons to guide them back home.

This year has been a constant storm.  COVID-19, political upheaval, unemployment, and civil unrest have left many people stressed and filled with worry.  Our world will always have storms and turmoil.

Jesus is our beacon during the storms of our lives.  As we struggle to navigate our lives through this world, it is only with the peace that Jesus brings that we can continue to move forward.  We can view him through the gift of his word.  When we refocus our view on Jesus, he will safely guide our lives back to the safe harbor.

July 13, 2021 – Taking the Road Less Travelled

What I Read Today;

Romans 13; Matthew 13; Isaiah 13; Job 13; Joshua 13; Genesis 13

We have two sections of scripture that fit very well together today. This first is the account of Abram and Lot in Genesis 13.

God had blessed both men. Both had now grown their families and possessions to the point where the land could not sustain both groups. Fighting between the factions began to break out. Abram, as the senior family member, had the right to force Lot out to a place where it would be difficult for him to survive. Yet, Abram chose to give this choice to Lot. Lot of course chose the better of the two locations.

Abram trusted that God would keep his promise and take care of his family. Lot made the choice that the world would take. Abram chose the Road Less Travelled.

Abram chose to put aside his rights, and keep the peace in his family. He made the decision to allow the law of Love, that we read about in Romans 13, dictate his conduct and his treatment of his family members.

The lesson for us is simple, we need to love our brother and sisters, even when it hurts. I’m sure Abram struggled to find water and keep everyone fed after Lot chose the more fertile land. But you don’t hear Abram complaining. He chose to show God’s love. Showing God’s love won’t always be easy. Sometimes you’ll have to give something up that you really wanted. Other times you’ll have to swallow your pride and let someone else take the credit. No matter the case God promises to bless us when we make those decisions to put others ahead of ourselves.

We know the rest of Lot’s story. Things didn’t work out well for him, as we’ll read soon enough.

Abram would go on to become the great Patriarch. Lot would disappear from the pages of scripture.

Following God’s law of Love won’t always lead to fame and won’t always be easy, but God will reward us for our efforts in his own time.

January 12, 2021 – Living Sacrifices

What I Read Today;

Romans 12, Matthew 12, Isaiah 12, Job 12, Joshua 12, Genesis 12

Throughout the Old Testament, the people gave sacrifices to seek forgiveness of sin and guilt or out of thanksgiving.  God established the sacrificial system to continually remind you and me of our sinful nature and our need for a savior. By the time of Jesus, these sacrifices had become a means of “Paying for Sin.”

Jesus’ death on the cross paid for our sins once and for all.  So how should we respond?

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us this, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” NIV

Our lives should be devoted to Jesus.  Every fiber of our being should point to the resurrected Lord who gave everything for us.  

We face the problem that the pull from our society is so strong that it keeps pulling us away from God.  We face a daily barrage of worldly desires.  From the internet, TV, and those we work with, we are enticed by desire and pulled away from God.

So the idea of living a life as a living sacrifice is easier said than done.  

That’s why staying connected to God, especially in the days of COVID, is more critical than ever.  Daily reading God’s word, praying, and connecting with others in the Christian Community are so very important.  The more we look away from the world and towards God, the more God will pull us back into his orbit.  We must focus on what is important to us!

January 11, 2021 – Where does our peace come from?

What I Read Today;

Romans 11, Matthew 11, Isaiah 11, Job 11, Joshua 11, Genesis 11

As I write this post, it is the morning of January 6th, 2021.  This morning it appears that the Democrats have defeated the Republicans in the Senate races in Georgia.  That means that the Democratic power will control the Senate, House, and White House for at least two years.

I can already hear the hand ringing and finger-pointing from my conservative friends beginning.

I tend not to comment much on politics.  I believe that the Christian community has placed far too much emphasis on its relationship with politicians. In the 1990s, Christian organizations such as the Christian Coalition were created to influence political agendas.  The Republican party jumped in bed with these groups.  This union of church and political party has led to Preachers with large followings and public TV and Internet forums getting into bed with politicians who probably shouldn’t have allied themselves.  I have to admit, the group photos of President Trump and Televangelists have made me quite uncomfortable.

The real problem is that this union of politics and preachers has caused Christians to put their faith in the wrong place.  Now, as the political winds shift to the left again, rather than seeing it as a natural shifting of politics, we see it as some judgment from God.  Fear mounts because we’ve come to see the other party as evil.  We may disagree with liberals for their policies, but by branding them as evil, we make them our enemies.  

This Union has created the state of our country that we find ourselves in this morning.  Some pundits will scream that evil is in charge.  Others will say that evil has been pushed out of the White House.  The cycle will continue.

So what do we do this morning?  We stand on the edge of a divided country.  Our news channels will be filled with fiery rhetoric.  Some idiots will scream about riots in the streets and secession.  

Yet in Matthew 11:28-30, we find a man stands off to the side with his arms open saying, “Come to Me.”  We see our savior telling us that he will give us rest.  

For those who are fearful this morning, Jesus says, “Come to Me.”  He says that no matter what political party is in charge, he is still our Savior.  He is still the creator of the universe who has numbered the very hairs of our heads and knows what is going to happen.  He loves us and works out everything for the best.

For those who are anxious this morning, Jesus offers his rest.  He tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

If your religion is causing anxiety, maybe you are practicing it incorrectly?

Could it be that Jesus is reminding you and me that true peace cannot come from our nation, politics, or job?  Jesus may be telling us to put down our phones, turn off our TV’s and get off the internet so that we can spend time leaving our burdens and struggles with Jesus.  

Maybe it’s time we listened?

January 10, 2021 – The Message Has Become Muddled

What I Read Today;

Romans 10, Matthew 10, Isaiah 10, Job 10, Joshua 10, Genesis 10

Reading Romans 10 reminds me that the Church has a mission.  It’s a simple mission that we human beings have consistently screwed up.

A quick scan of our world today shows the relentless march of the highly educated and the cluely deficient who are now in charge.  Politics have infected our religion.  It’s as simple as that.

On one side, we have liberals who are espousing a world in which morality isn’t defined by the Bible anymore.  Anything goes, abortion on demand, check.  Sex outside of marriage, no problem.  We live in a world where anything goes.  Celebrities and business people can have multiple marriages, massive scandals, and all is forgiven as long as the size of the campaign donation is big enough or if their political leanings are in the “right place.”

Now the conservative side of the aisle has taken to doing the same thing in reverse.  We espouse a rigid view of the scriptures yet accept politicians who’ve not lived according to God’s word.  We’ve witnessed several high profile ministers caught up in scandals involving sexual harassment and, in some cases, adultery.

I believe that the problem right now is that the message has become about politics and the minister’s personality, not about Jesus.  We’ve spent too much time worrying about end times and not focusing on the right here and now.  We’ve missed Jesus’ point about making disciples and leaving the end of the world to him and the father.

The fiasco that has taken place in our political system is directly related to the fact that the church needs to make disciples.  

Paul tells us, in Romans 10:15, that people won’t know the message if they don’t hear the message, and you and I are the messengers.

We need to loudly and clearly proclaim to the world that Jesus has opened a way for you and me to spend eternity with Him in paradise.  Repent and believe the Good News! Amen!