Our Longing

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. [Psalm 27:4]

Watch the news
Peruse social media
Read the paper…

…and it doesn’t take long to get depressed or angry or worried or concerned about the direction of our nation and society. Culture seems to plummeting faster and faster into the abyss. Satan seems to be setting up his throne for a tyrannical reign.

And then there are those stories of the government reaching farther and farther into the religious liberty camp in order to destroy it. Can the government really legislate what the church teaches? It sure seems like they are trying. Being a Christian is getting more and more uncomfortable in this world.

But thankfully this world is not home.

For the Christian, your focus should not be on worldly comforts but rather on the longing that the psalmist talks about:
Dwelling in the house of the Lord
Gazing upon his beauty
Inquiring in his holy temple.
I reflect on these and suddenly I feel at ease. I feel excited and hopeful. I feel empowered and encouraged as I remember that even though this world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, Jesus still reigns.

For…

…through faith in Jesus Christ the Christian can have the hope of dwelling in God’s house, gazing upon his beauty and inquiring in his temple. And when you reflect on this and ask God for the faith to receive this promise, then and only then, can you put everything in perspective. For you see, it’s not about putting our faith in our leaders to save us and provide for us but rather praising and worshiping God for already saving us and providing for us. And therefore it’s our job and joy to share this Good News with the world in order to give others hope, because it doesn’t take long to see that one can not put their hope in this world.

Don’t long for things and people of this world, but rather long for God.
Don’t worry and get depressed, but rather long for God.
Don’t get scared or concerned about what the world can do to you, but rather long for God.

Ask and seek
Dwell
Gaze
Inquire

And…

…praise God always and forever.

The Pastor -|—

Send Me

You have sent me out
to make disciples

of ALL nations.

You have sent me out
to lead people to You.

ALL people.

You have sent me out
to proclaim forgiveness

of ALL sins.

You have sent me out.

But I am judgmental
I am sinful
I am weak
I don’t know it all

Why, oh God, why,
have you sent me?
Certainly there are others more qualified.
Certainly there are others more faithful.
Certainly there are others who are smarter.
Certainly there has to be someone else.

But yet You have sent me.

Oh God,
lead me,
forgive me,
empower me,
gift me.

 For you sent me unqualified,
but,
only You can qualify me.
So in the name of Jesus
send me qualified in Your eyes,
so the eyes of others can see you.

Who shall You send?

Send me!

The Pastor -|—

Stuff

For 12 years I have resided in a 12′ by 12′ office. One wall is the door and a closet. The next wall is shelving and cupboards. The next wall is my desk and space to open my cupboards, and then the final wall is more shelving, boxes and room to open the door. So really, my 12 by 12 office is a lot smaller than that when you factor in all the stuff lying around. So given that I reside in a space about the size of a prison cell, one would think that packing this space up would be a piece of cake.

Not even close.

Where did all this stuff come from?

I have five boxes of books I am getting rid of with more on my “free stuff” table outside my office. I have 10 boxes/containers packed of stuff I am taking with me with a couple more boxes to pack.

Once again, where did all this stuff come from. Just look at the banner on the top of this blog and you can get an idea of what I have been dealing with this week.

Stuff, stuff and more stuff.

Incredible.

And I am not even going to talk about the parsonage.

Why do we have so much stuff? I definitely don’t need it because a lot of it is getting tossed. And the stuff getting tossed is stuff I didn’t know I had in the first place and therefore I really didn’t need it to begin with.

That’s it. Every year I am going to purge my office of stuff so I don’t have to deal with this again. Ya right, that will never happen, but it’s a good thought.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (if only they would steal some of this stuff), but lay for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
[Matthew 6:19-21]

Now seriously, please tell me you are not surprised with the scripture I just used 🙂

In any case, I should be encouraged by this whole endeavor. I am not attached to a lot of this stuff and therefore it is easy to throw away, yet I am still keeping a lot of stuff. My treasures? No, not treasures. Just stuff. Stuff I could part with if need be. My real treasure is Jesus. I just wish Jesus hadn’t blessed me with all this stuff. At least He could come and help me pack.

Oh well, enough procrastinating, back to packing.

Come, Lord Jesus, and help me (pack).

The Pastor -|—

Remember ~ A Prayer

Gracious and loving God,
the thief on the cross spoke to Jesus saying,
“Remember me when you come into your kingdom”
and thus Jesus responded,
“You will be with me in paradise”.
Oh God,
may we, too, remember Jesus
and not deny him through worldly pursuits.
May we turn to our true Lord and Savior
and not to temporal gods.
May we acknowledge the Way, the Truth and the Life,
Jesus,
as our only hope of everlasting communion with You.
Peter denied Jesus and that is heartbreaking
but also convicting;
knowing we do the same,
but Jesus shows incredible love and grace.
May that love and grace be even more convicting;
causing us to run into Your holy arms.
May our lives ever acknowledge You.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Be BOLD

Here’s a morning rant for you so please excuse my language…

There is a lot of crap going on in the world. I surf social media and read news stories and I am blown away by the depravity that is out there. I can hardly believe it when I hear and read about people reveling in calling good evil and evil good.

What is going on?!?

I know, I know, we live in a sinful world, but where are all the voices? Where are all the people who follow Jesus Christ? Why isn’t there more of an outcry?

Yesterday, the people responsible for bringing to light the evil practices of Planned Parenthood were indicted instead of Planned Parenthood. How is this possible. Granted, I am not a legal expert and maybe there are facts that I am not aware of, but come on, this makes no sense. Never mind that fact that people are being killed before they even get to see the light of day. And then there are the politicians that are lauding this decision; calling evil good. That I get because they don’t care about those babies since they are not voters.

In any case, we need boldness…

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, (Acts 4:29)

Following Pentecost, Peter and John heal a crippled man in the temple and then go on to proclaim the risen Jesus Christ. The Pharisees are not the least bit happy and demand that they no longer speak of Jesus. Upon returning to their church, Peter and John report what happened and what was said. Instead of cowering in fear of the authorities, the church worships God and prays for more boldness to speak of the Gospel.

My friends, we need to pray for more boldness and speak of Jesus. We need more boldness and speak the truth. We need not fear the this world. As this Acts Church prayed from Psalm 2,  “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— The nations can rage all they want against God’s anointed, but guess what?

They can not win.

Through faith in Jesus Christ we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and therefore you are on the side of power and victory. Pray for boldness. Stand up for the truth. Do not be silent. The nations may rage against you, but you have Jesus.

Be BOLD! Be STRONG! For the Lord your God is with you.

The Pastor -|—

Oh God, You are…

Oh God,
You are the God of the past.
You are the God of the present.
You are the God of the future.
You are the God of my everything and for all time.

Oh God,
You hold me securely.
You hold me lovingly.
You hold me faithfully.
Therefore I shall never fear and tremble before this world.

Oh God,
You are present with me in the bad times.
You are present with me in the good times.
You are present with me in all times,
and therefore You are to be praised always and forever.

Oh God,
You reign over uncertainty.
You are faithful despite my anxiety.
You are calming in my anxiousness.
You are healing.

Oh God, You are many things,
and therefore,
all praise to You.

The Pastor -|—

Sometimes ~ A Prayer

Holy God,

Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball and
sometimes I wish I had an email that laid everything out.

Sometimes I wish you would mail out a memo and
sometimes I wish you would shout from a mountain top.

Sometimes I wish you would hire a plane to fly a banner across the sky and
sometimes I wish you would even send me Morris code for me to decipher.

But You don’t do those things,
for You do things in a better way;
for You are far more
intimate and
close and
personal.

You, oh God, do things in a way that I need to trust You.
But,
sometimes I get impatient.
Sometimes I become irritable.
Sometimes I do not trust you.

Send Your Holy Spirit and speak to me.
Send Your Holy Spirit and convict me.
Send Your Holy Spirit and draw me closer.

And may my sometimes be taken away that I may always,
love you,
trust you,
and
follow you.

So…

speak to me, Lord,
I’m listening…

Amen.

On Vacation

The Pastor is on vacation this week; and even though I love preaching and leading worship, I am looking forward to sitting with and worshipping with my family this Sabbath day. I am also looking forward to worshipping with our friends; listening to my friend, Phil, preach the Word.

So there won’t be any worship prayers posted this week, but I’ll be back at it next week. May God be glorified in your worship and may God’s Word powerfully work in your heart.

See ya later.

The (vacationing) Pastor -|—

A great day…but don’t forget

I began my day by sitting on my patio this morning:
I heard the birds singing.
I felt a gentle breeze.
I drank my coffee.
I read scripture.

…and I gave thanks to God for a beautiful day…and for freedom.

What a great day…Praise be to God!

Today is Memorial Day.  Many people will attend parades, programs and spend time with family and friends.  Grills will get fired up.  A grave site or two will get visited.  A day off work will be enjoyed.

But through all these activities remember a couple things:
(1) Remember and thank those who have served this country in the armed forces.

(2) Remember and thank those who currently serve (remembering their familes as well).

(3)  Remember and thank GOD!

We enjoy many freedoms in this world because of those who have made incredible sacrifices for our freedoms…and they should be remembered and thanked.  But don’t forget the freedom we have through Jesus Christ.
~ Without the cross the freedoms we have in this world life would be truly meaningless.
~ Without Jesus’ sacrifice we would have no hope.
~ Without God’s love we would not be truly free.

Give thanks today…but don’t forget to give thanks to God (today and everyday); for through Jesus we are truly free.

Praise be to God!
Thank you, God!
Bless those who serve this country!
Bless all your children!
Amen!

edh -|—

 

Cleaning house

I am not quite sure what has gotten into me but I have been on an incredible cleaning binge recently…and it feels great 🙂

My office used to be a complete and utter sty:
–Papers all over the floor
–Unfiled books stacked on a work space area.
–Files filled with old, old, old stuff that will never, ever, ever be used again.
–Stuff littering my office that has disguised itself as decorations.

For about 7 1/2 years I have been working in a space like that…but no more.

Over the course of yesterday and this morning I have been periodically putting stuff away, throwing stuff out and organizing…in between times of lesson planning and sermon prep.  It has provided a break from ministry tasks but it also has been fairly enlightening (besides the fact that I am now realizing I am experiencing some troubles locating certain items).

The enlightening part is this: I am amazed at how we hold on to stuff…sometimes for no real reason other than; “I might need it sometime“.  We also place a lot of sentimental value on innate objects.  “So and so gave that to me”, “I bought that when we vacationed in…”,  “I found that rock and it looked pretty”.  Not that we shouldn’t cherish gifts we get from people but seriously…there is a line…somewhere.  At what point is enough, enough?  What should we hold on to and what should we let go?

Now…

…I swivel around in my office chair and I see a wide open space…and I like it 🙂  I find myself trying to decide what words to type here to describe what this feels like.  I can feel a difference.  Some words that are coming to mind are:
–Free
–Relaxing
–Peaceful
–Content
–Energizing

Am I just weird or does this make sense to people?  Well …actually…I hope this does makes sense because…

[Watch out – here comes the pastor in me that is always looking for a ministry illustration in everyday life events and things]

…this is a similar feeling I get when I hear someone proclaim to me, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that my sins are forgiven.  In some similar ways we have a tendency to hold on to sins in our lives but for different reasons:
–God can’t possibly forgive that.
–I am too embarrassed to even say it.
–I am beyond hope so why even try.
–I haven’t cleaned up my act enough to step before God.
…and you get the point.

We hoard those undesirable sins…all the while they are choking us and draining us of all hope.  They crowd all the free space in our heart and we begin to feel closed in.  The only way to be free is to boldly and confidently come before God and, through faith in Jesus Christ, confess those sins.  When you do God will gladly say to you:

“My child…I love you.  You’re sins are forgiven.”

And there you go….you’re free.  How do I know this?

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
(Psalm 103:11-12)

Wow…that is awesome.  Those sins are gone.  Forgotten.  They are history.  Never to be remembered by God.  So therefore (and I don’t know about you) but  when I think about that steadfast love I feel:
–Free
–Relaxed
–Peaceful
–Content
–Energized
–(and allow me to add) Thankful

My friends…join me in cleaning house, each and everyday and enjoy this awesome God of ours through Jesus Christ our Risen Savior and Lord.

Blessings to you 🙂

edh -|—