Speak that we may Speak ~ A Prayer

Creator God,
in the beginning You spoke life into existence.
To remain silent, then,
would have meant our non-existence
and
it would have meant no one to glorify Your holy name.
And so we exist;
to worship You, to praise You, to glorify You.
And to do this we must speak and abhor silence.

Holy God,
stir in Your people a burning desire
to speak the Truth of Your love and grace through Jesus Christ.
May the fear the world proclaims
be silenced through our faith in the one who overcame the world,
Jesus.
May the flaming arrows of the evil one
lose all its potency through Your holy Word.
May the shield of faith
embolden us to speak the name of Jesus no matter the situation.

Send now Your Holy Spirit
to bring power to the words of Truth
that we will hear this morning,
for through them You create faith and thus life.
Send us forth, then, in Your power
to the glory of Your awesome name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Speaking ~ good; silence ~ bad

I am finishing the sermon for tomorrow and wanted to share this little tid bit with you before I posting the prayer I wrote for the closing of the sermon:

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, Jesus is on trial before the high priest. During the trial, (false) witnesses came forward with testimony against Jesus, but with one glaring problem: Their testimony did not agree. More witnesses came forward but still could not agree. And when asked by the high priest to answer these charges, Jesus remained silent. At this point, there was nothing to convict Jesus and thus remaining silent could have meant his freedom because after all, the truth was on his side but also THE Truth was on his side, and thus silence is not an option.

So the high priest eventually chimes in to ask if Jesus was the Son of God, and Jesus breaks his silence to speak the Truth; signing his own death certificate. All Jesus had to do, to save his life, was remain silent, but he spoke the Truth to set you free.

And what about you, do you remain silent about the Truth of God; about the Gospel. Sure, it may be easier to remain silent in this world that is hell bent on discrediting Christians, but what does that silence achieve? To remain silent may secure your comfort but it may mean eternal death for someone else if they don’t hear about Jesus. Silence may be easy for you but it may come with a high cost for someone else.

But really, if you truly know the Truth of God through Jesus Christ, how does one keep silent. Speak, for the truth has already set you free. Let’s pray…

All honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
for the awesome gift of life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All thanksgiving be to You
for giving us Your Holy Spirit to sustain us.
All praise be to You,
Holy God,
for receiving redeemed sinners into Your presence through Jesus.
May we be so bold to speak and abhor silence when it comes to the Good News of Jesus.
May proclaiming Your grace and love be as natural to us as breathing,
as we look forward to that day when we begin worshiping You
forever and ever
in Your glorious kingdom.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Off your butt

In a few moments I will be leaving this closet I call an office and heading out into the community to do something I thoroughly enjoy…

Visit people.

My first stop will be The Pines (the assisted living facility here in Jackson).  On the first Tuesday of every month I meet with the Salem members living there to bring them communion and to visit.  Next, I will go to what many people call my second office: Coffee Choices (I think the title of the place is self-explanatory).  In addition to getting my afternoon coffee I hope to run into people to visit with; if not customers then the staff.

And after my coffee stop I will see where the wind blows me.

To some, this may look like I am being lazy and not working, but on the contrary, this is extremely important work.  To be a minister of the Gospel; whether a called pastor or a lay person, you need to go out to where people are at.  You need to engage people in their context.  You need to listen to people and relate to what they are going through.  And to do this ministry you need to get out there.

You can’t just sit and wait for people to find you; you need to find them. You need to take the initiative.  You need to take advantage of opportunities that God gives you. I am not saying that as a Christian that you need to have a sermon ready to preach to everyone you meet.  What I am saying is that you need to be ready to show love to everyone and to do that you need to get off your butt.

It’s really simply ministry when you think about it; you get some exercise and maybe a cup of coffee or two.

So here I go.  My butt is leaving this chair. Will I see you out there?

The pastor -|—

Meeting us on the road

I love the fact that Jesus meets us where we are at.

Luke 24:13-35 was the Bible study text for the SW MN Synod Assembly this past weekend (June 12-14).  It is also a text that I use for my personal ministry mission statement (see the above page tab for more details).  I believe there is a lot for us to learn from this.  I mean…how often do we try to get people to come to us.  I am as guilty as anyone.
–We create programs to try to “lure” people into the church building.
–We encourage people to go out and invite people into the building for worship.
–We spends lot of time (and money) making our buildings look nice so people will be attached to our building.

But that is not how Jesus did ministry.

–Jesus did not sit stationary and wait for people to find him.
–Jesus did not set up a home office and advertise classes, speeches and seminars.
–Jesus did not build a fancy building with the thinking “If I build it they will come”.

Jesus went and met people on “the road” and that should be our ministry example as well.  I guess that is why I have a ministry mission statement based on Luke 24…to remind me that I need to get “out there” and meet people where they are…literally and figuratively.

But as we do this we need to remember who is in charge.  We don’t what we do as a church in order to beef up the offering plate, make our numbers look good or to acquire popularity in the community.  As a church we go out and meet people on the road to proclaim the saving love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  That should be our ONLY motivation…because after all…that was Jesus’ ONLY motivation as he went to the cross all FOR YOU and FOR ME.

-edh-

Monday morning (or should I say “afternoon”) check in

I am finally back in the office…but a little late on getting to my blog.  If you could have seen the pile of stuff I had to deal with I think you would understand.  I enjoy getting away for awhile; its just the getting caught up that I don’t like.  But I think I am there.

Last night I had an AWESOME night…

…that is Point of Grace and I had third row, center aisle seats for this concert.  AND…it was free.  This was the finale of the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference that I attended this past week…and everything is free…it has been that way for 74 years.  This is an amazing conference and I am always blown away that they can put on such an event based solely on the contributions of generous supporters. 

Each morning started with prayer and then a Bible study.  At 10am we have some fellowship time before we head to the “communities” (small group sessions) at 10:30.  There isn’t anything going on in the afternoon but we reconvene at 7:15pm for the evening worship celebration time with a different (usually a nationally known) speaker (i.e.  Tuesday night was Phil Vischer, the founder of Veggie Tales).  And did I say that all of this is FREE?

The “community” I attended in the mornings was lead by Phil Vischer and his brother Rob (a law professor at St. Thomas Law School in the Twin Cities).  They spoke about Christ and Culture.  I missed the Monday and Tuesday communities but I am glad I made it to Wednesday’s.  Here Rob Vischer spoke about the Christian perspective on family law.  The basic premise was the evolution of the same sex marriage debate.  This is something that has been brewing for quite a few decades.  But what was really scary is where the law is headed in the future.  Basically the family unit is being de-valued and more emphasis is being placed on individual liberty.  Hence…people starting to be allowed to decided who’s in their family.  Rob said that on the horizon the next debate will be polygamy because if two men or two women want to get married, why not expand that definition to include more people.  The direction that family law is headed is very scary.  This was indeed an eye opening “community”.

So much more happened this past week but I am still trying to process everything.  I got a feeling that as other learnings begin to bubble up that they will soon find themselves on the pages of this blog.  But in the mean time I will take my leave of this topic.

In the future
There are some other blog topics that I have started that I haven’t dealt with for a while…and I am going to be returning to these topics shortly:
(1) Evangelism — at the end of July I was invited to participate in a meeting at the ELCA headquarters in Chicago.  My bishop along with a synod minister and our synod V.P. attended this meeting.  We heard a number of presentations and participated in some fruitful brainstorming for the synod.  I also got appointed to the “Serving in God’s World” board (evangelism and outreach) for the SW MN synod.  I am looking forward to writing more about my involvement here.

(2) Business meeting model vs. Ministry meeting model — this was something concerning church councils.  Wrote a while back about my efforts of changing how our church council looks at themselves.  We need to be a group of people focused on advancing the mission of Christ in the world around us.  Someone commented and asked me how I was going to do this and I responded that I was still working on it.  Well…I want to return to this topic in the near future.  I have a council meeting this week and I hope to implement a new “agenda item”.  I will say more about this later.

(3) Learnings from the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference.

Whew…that’s a lot of stuff coming up and I am excited to get started writing.  I guess time off really did me some good.

Anyway…take care and God bless!

-edh-