Away with Bad News

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
[Psalm 112:7]

Oh Christian, why be afraid of bad news. Why fret when things don’t go YOUR way? Why become downcast when YOUR agenda doesn’t work out? Yet, that is what happens when many face bad news. We see many who are of the world thrown into such a tizzy when something happens that they don’t like. The worldly become angry and despondent and fall into despair and hopelessness. The worldly claim injustice and fight back when they don’t get their way. The worldly don’t trust the Lord but rather their own feelings and agendas.

May that never be with the Christian.

When we respond as though God doesn’t know what he is doing, we are drawn into a great many sins. When we fail to trust the sovereignty of God, we place ourselves upon a throne of paper. Trust in the Lord, oh Christian, even when things don’t go YOUR way. Worship the Lord even when YOUR agendas come to nothing. Praise the Lord even when YOUR ways fail. The Lord sits on the throne and rules rightly. Jesus died and rose for the forgiveness of your sins so that the bad news would not be your end but rather ended.

Oh Christian, bad news is of this world, but the Good News is from the Lord, and you are the Lord’s. Don’t let the bad news of this world define you but rather take great joy in the Good News. When things don’t go YOUR way, turn to the Lord and trust in Him. He knows what He is doing.

The Pastor -|—

#WriteAHappyStoryIn4Words

The title of this post was a trending hashtag topic on Twitter on Dec 6. If you don’t understand hashtags it is basically a topic that people are talking about. If it is “trending” then lots of people are talking about it.

I saw the hashtag and my imagination started running wild. I posted a few and then sat and “daydreamed” more…

[this may sound like I am being lazy but pastoral day-dreaming can actually be very hard work];

…turning this into a devotional exercise. I then decided to group them all together to share with a wider audience.

[see, I am working]

So here are my “happy stories”; all using just 4 words.

[with a little commentary thrown in for good measure]

Feel free to leave a comment and share your “happy story” here.

[I don’t recommend doing the “pastoral day-dreaming” at work if you are not a pastor :-)]

Jesus IS coming back
Death has no power
Jesus is Lord forever
Me weak, Jesus strong ~ I know, I know, sounds caveman-like, but you get my point.
Jesus wins, I win
Jesus knocked Satan out ~ A little violent but hey, it’s Satan getting hit.
God is in control ~ Cliché? Maybe, but this still holds true.
Jesus died FOR YOU
Jesus is alive, ALLELUIA
God first loved you
God is our refuge
The Light shatters darkness ~ Notice the captial “L”
God’s Word is forever
You are not alone ~ Taken out of context this can actually be scary, so let’s stay focused 🙂
Jesus good, Satan bad ~ I used to have a t-shirt with this on it.
Jesus is the reason ~ (for the season), This may be borderline cheating.
Thy will be done

I thought of more, but of course it was while I was driving home yesterday and then I forgot when I got home (that’s what I get for starting a post one day and finishing it the next). Grrrr… In any case, feel free to add your stories for there are many more. Happy day dreaming 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Good News in a bad news world

News

Teen dies after ‘simple, common wisdom teeth extraction’

Mpls. police investigate fatal shooting

Teen charged with murder in toddler’s violent death

Man found guilty of attempted murder at party

Heavy rain from Bill threatens new floods in North Texas

Bad news, bad news, bad news; it’s all around us. And these are just a few headlines I found on the website of a local TV station. And as you look further out into world news, it doesn’t get much better:
~ ISIS
~ Wars
~ Terrorism
~ Extreme poverty/hunger
~ Genocide

Closer to home, your news may seem even worse:
“Your prognosis is not good”
“I want a divorce”
~ “Your position is being eliminated”
~ “There was an accident…”

And just reading those headlines makes me depressed. Sure, there are those feel good stories that the late evening news shows from time to time, but it’s not enough to numb the pain and heart ache that dominates the headlines. A story of a young child saving her mother, who was having a diabetic reaction, warms your heart and puts a smile on your face, but then a following story about ISIS seemingly takes that all away.

Bad news, bad news, bad news.
We need some Good News.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. [Psalm 112:7]

And then I read this verse from the Psalter; not afraid of bad news. Why? Because of the Good News that the psalmist has in his heart: trusting in the Lord.

The bad news that seems to dominate headlines (because for some reason that seems to grab more ratings) is only truly bad news if your hope is only in this world. If you are putting all your eggs in one basket; putting all your senior officers in one shuttle craft, then there is much to fear when all hell seems to be breaking lose.

But…

If your hope is in the Lord; trusting in His promises, then THE Good News (Jesus Christ) will dominate your headlines and snuff out that life draining bad news that Satan is trying to promote. Feel good stories are great and give us a glimpse of God working in the lives of people, but the ultimate “feel good” story is Jesus Christ dying for your sins and then rising to New Life that you may have the hope of the resurrection. And after the resurrection; no more bad news.

I like that and now I feel much better.
Joy has been restored.
Good News trumping bad news.

So…

Bring on the bad news, Satan, for you can not top THE Good News of Jesus Christ; for it is this Good News I will focus on and thus trust in my God.

Holy God, when bad news threatens to steal my joy remind me of the Good News of Jesus Christ; whereby my hope is placed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

My least favorite day

I love Christmas, but recently I heard a pastor say something that saddened me:

“The only thing I love as much as Christmas is the day after Christmas.”

I didn’t quite know what to say to that because I knew what they meant; they were looking forward to Christmas being over 😦

Christmas is indeed busy.  There’s lot’s of extra things to do on top of what we already need to do.  Yesterday morning, for example, I thought I had the Christmas Eve service all planned last week.  I gave the musicians the bulletin outline so they could practice the music, but then my secretary pointed out a mistake I made ~ I put a carol in there twice.  So I had to make some changes and contact the musicians.  And this is all while I am trying to get my newsletter article done, do sermon prep, make a delivery to the nursing home and run a couple other errands.  And then the phone was ringing and I had to try very hard to be patient with people (because it is not their fault that everything was piling up on me).

Christmas can cause a lot of headaches and stress and sleepless night for a pastor but you know something…

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

For me Christmas is a golden opportunity to preach the Gospel to people who normally don’t come to worship.  It’s my chance to slap people across the face with the Good News of the Christ-child being born for all people.  It’s the perfect time to tell people that Christmas is not a secular holiday but rather a celebration of perfect love coming down to us.  As one of my 4th grade girls said in release time just recently:

“If Jesus wasn’t born then he wouldn’t have died on the cross for our sins and therefore we wouldn’t go to heaven.”

Amen!  That’s the Good News of Christmas.

Next to Easter, Christmas is my favorite day of the year and my least favorite day is the day after Christmas because it means I have 364 days to wait to do this again.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The pastor -|—

Waiting and questions

My wife and I are in the adoption process.

We started this journey back in June but didn’t tell the congregations I serve until October.  For me those fours months were long.  A couple very close friends knew (as they were praying for us) but I was looking forward to being more open about what we were doing.  My wife, on the other hand, wished we could keep this quiet for a little while longer.

You see ~ one of things that we were concerned about was all the questions we knew we were going to get.  Not just the initial questions following the news release but the follow up questions, “Any news yet?”  This would be especially hard if this process dragged out…and compound that with the number times that well-meaning people asked the question.

It has been nearly 2 months now since our announcement and the questions have come just like we thought.  Not everyday but I do get a couple questions per week.  Usually from someone I haven’t seen for a while.  But as time has gone on I have come to a realization…

…I look forward to those questions.

I thought it would be hard but it’s not.  The reason I look forward to those questions is because it tells me that Connie and I are not the only ones anxiously waiting.  We are not waiting alone.  And that feels good.  People are praying for us.  And there is something about waiting together that is powerful and encouraging.

And when I contemplate this waiting I can’t help but think of the season we are in: Advent.  This is a season of waiting as we await the celebration of the birth of Jesus AND await Jesus coming again…to bring us home.  It’s an anxious waiting and an exciting waiting.  But the difference between this waiting and our adoption waiting is that we have Good News to share right now:

Jesus has come.
Jesus will come again.
Hallelujah!

So we wait patiently and expectantly, knowing that our faithful God will come through for us.

So when I get that “Any news yet?” question maybe I should say, “Yes…there is Good News.  Jesus is coming.” And then say, “But we are still waiting.

Waiting together.

So please keep asking the questions.  We appreciate your support and prayers.  And soon (God willing) I will have some “other” exciting news to share with you…but all in God’s timing.

Happy waiting and praise be to God 🙂

The pastor -|—

Just shut up and follow

I have been doing some pondering this week about what it means to be called.  The Gospel text for this Sunday (Jan 22) is Mark 1:14-20.  Here Jesus is walking along; encounters some guys and simply says “Come, follow me”.  And these rabbi school rejects drop everything to follow Jesus.

They leave behind a somewhat stable income.
They leave behind a place to live.
They leave behind family and friends.
They leave behind their careers.
They leave behind their comfort zones.

Just like that they go and follow Jesus.  No argument. No negotiating.  They go and follow Jesus.  At least some of those characters in Old Testament tried to object:

I’m too young. (Jeremiah)
I’m a man of unclean lips. (Isaiah)
I don’t speak so well. (Moses)
We’re too old. (Abraham and Sarah)

That sounds more like me.

But God has a response for those excuses and so they follow…and God is faithful…and God accomplishes what God set out to do through them.  As if there should have been any doubt.  God is awesome and God knows what he is doing.

If that be the case (and it is) why do I think I can offer up an excuse for why I can’t or shouldn’t follow?  Do I really believe I can convince God that He made the wrong choice?  Do I really think I can talk God out of what God has in mind for me?  Do I really think that God doesn’t know me better than I know myself?

Silly man!

So whatever excuse you have used to not follow God…throw them out the window.  They’re no good.  When God says “Follow” simply recall to mind Psalm 23 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me” .

Think also of Jesus’ promise from Matthew 28 “…and lo, I am with you even to the very end of the age.”

When God commands you to follow, God is not going to leave you stranded.
When God commands you to follow, God will not leave you orphaned.
When God commands you to follow, God WILL do amazing things through you.

So just follow.
Stop the arguing.
Repent and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ died and risen FOR YOU.
And then…watch the fireworks…praising God always and forever.

Amen!

edh -|—