Hungering For Others and For God (Matthew 5:6)


For the next 30 hours, there is going to be plenty of “hunger” in my life.

You see, there is a group of kids from my confirmation class who will be participating in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine to raise money and awareness for world hunger. The famine started at 12 noon today (Friday) so there’s not a lot of hunger going on yet, but there will be.

The kids will arrive at church at 6:30 PM for a lock in, where they will doing some activities and Bible studies tonight. Tomorrow (Saturday) they will go on a scavenger hunt for the food shelf in town and then volunteer there for a couple hours. They will do some other services projects along with more activities and Bible study. At 6 PM (Saturday) we will gather for worship and Holy Communion and then break the fast with a bountiful spaghetti dinner.

And even though we will be getting pretty hungry maybe tonight but definitely tomorrow, it will be nothing compared to those who go without food for days or longer. Really, most of us have no idea what real hunger is like. For the most part we have food to eat everyday. And even if you don’t, there are food programs and food shelves and feeding ministries and the like readily available in this country (for the most part). But hopefully these kids get a taste of what hunger is like and feel more empathy for those who go without. Maybe next time they will go the extra mile to help the food shelf in town. Maybe they will notice that classmate who doesn’t get much to eat. Maybe they will reach out even farther to support world hunger initiatives.

But even more than doing the tangible thing of feeding people, my hope and prayer is that their hunger and thirst for God increases and drives them to serve their neighbor, not out of guilt or pity, but out of love for them. For when we hunger and thirsty for the righteousness that only God gives through faith in Jesus, then we will be driven to feed others (physically and spiritually).

So I ask you to be in prayer for these kids for the next 30 hours (and beyond). May God increase their hunger for Him and for their neighbors all over the world.

Father God, may we never lose our hunger for you. May our thirsty for the living water of Jesus never fade. And may we not lose sight of those who hunger and thirst in any way. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Whom to Fear (Matthew 10:26-33)

[26] “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. [27] What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. [28] And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. [29] Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. [30] But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. [31] Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. [32] So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, [33] but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 10:26-33 ESV)

These verses come to mind this morning as I read a story on Twitter about ISIS allegedly killing 30 Ethiopian Christians. And sadly, this is a story that will get very little media attention; 30 Christians (link included) going to their deaths because of their faith. I weep for the families affected and for the Ethiopian people but I also praise God with them that these 30 were found worthy to die for the Way. I probably will never face anything like that in my life time but I hope and pray that my faith would be strong enough to stare death in the face and cling to the hope of the resurrection.

And for this Christian way over here in this country, there is very little I can do to protect Christians way over there. But one thing that we can all do is pray for the Church:

Pray that the Church is faithful to the Word of God.
Pray that the Church is faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray that Christians remember what and who Jesus died for.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict those who oppose Jesus.

And that last prayer request is not out of line. It’s not a fantasy or dream to think that the Holy Spirit could convict those in ISIS. Saul (later became Paul) was a feared persecutor of the Church; killing and imprisoning many Christians. But then Jesus showed up; blinding him and changed his heart. If Jesus could do that to Saul/Paul then Jesus can do that to anyone.

God willing of course.

But in the mean time, do not fear those who can kill the body, rather…
Fear God
Worship God
Praise God
Glorify God
Run to God
Cling to God

and all through Jesus Christ who died that we may live.

This pastor’s heart is heavy this morning but also very hopeful. God is good and God has already won the victory, no matter how many Christians are killed for the Way.

Praise be to God!

Holy God, grant faith to Your holy Church that it may stand under the threat of those who oppose it. May the Good News of Jesus Christ give hope to many as Your kingdom has been and is being established through Your Son. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Let’s eat

May God bless you this morning as you worship and enjoy some Sabbath rest. Take some time and read Matthew 22:1-14 about the Wedding Banquet God has prepared for us through Jesus Christ.  See and hear a gracious God calling YOU to “eat”.  Let’s pray together:

Loving God,

Life is busy.
Life is hectic.
Life is stressful.
But you have provided a feast for me to look forward to.

Life is challenging.
Life is demanding.
Life is draining.
But you have provided a party for me to look forward to.

I am sinful.
I am undeserving.
I am unfaithful.
But you invite me anyway.

O gracious God, you have prepared a wedding feast for me and invited me to come.  You have made all the preparations and have sent out the invitations through your Son Jesus Christ.  My prayer this morning is that my heart may be ready when the summons comes.  We don’t know when Jesus will return ~ we just know that you are faithful, gracious, loving and forgiving.

Lord God Almighty, I so look forward to dining with you at Your table.  Thank you for giving me hope beyond this busy, hectic, stressful, challenging, demanding and draining life despite my sinful-undeserving-unfaithfulness.

Hear my prayer and accept my confession.  I want to eat with you.

Through Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

edh -|—

“Give to God what is God’s”

This week is my week to submit a devotional for the local newspaper so I decided to expand more on what I posted yesterday.  The question I asked was, “do we spend time giving God what is God’s or do we spend way too much time debating/arguing over what belongs to Caesar?”  When it comes to taxes, government and politics, people can get really fired up and passionate but when it comes to God…well…not so much.  I mean…how many times have we heard passionate people get upset over “trivial matters” in the church, but rarely of “Gospel matters”:  “You’re not doing this report correctly”, “I don’t like those new light fixtures”, “I can’t believe so and so is doing that”.  Business matters of the church are important, but not at the expense of “Gospel matters”.

Give to God what is God’s
How about all those people who do not know God?  How about those inactive members?  How about discussions on who we can give our money too?  How about a discussion on what service projects we could do next?

What are we to give to God?  God demands and deserves our worship, our trust, our faithfulness, etc.  When we do this, everything else seems to fall into place.  When we give to God what is God’s “trivial matters” in the church seem to become less trivial.  When we give to God what is God’s, love and respect of all God’s people seem to take center stage.

So…”give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” but don’t forget to “give to God what is God’s” Amen.


Sunday morning prayer — Thank God for for being chosen

Once again I have had a busy September week but my upcoming schedule is starting to look a little better as it usually does towards the end of the month.  I have much to share with you (in addition to my scripture reading highlights).

I do have one little piece of personal news to share with you now, though (actually this is more of an update).  The Twin Cities marathon is 2 weeks from today.  Please remember me in your prayers.  I am growing more and more excited and more and more nervous.  I wonder sometimes if I am ready for this; if there is more I could’ve done or more that I can still do.  I know I can’t back out now after 13+ months of training (even though my mom and my wife wouldn’t mind if I backed out now).  I need to keep chugging along…I know I can do this and I am excited to be able to call myself a marathon runner.

With that…let’s prepare ourselves for worship today by remembering the Gospel text of the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.  My preaching focus today is about the fact that before we do any work in the vineyard we are chosen.  And the problem I see in the Church today is that too many people get caught up with the economics of this world and try to apply them to the Kingdom.  A sense of entitlement creeps into many people’s theology.  But what we need to recapture is our sense of excitement of being chosen in the first place.  It’s like recapturing the new car smell again.  Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).  Let’s rejoice over being chosen!  Let us pray…

Almighty, loving and gracious God, we desire to be with you but we fall short of your glory through sin. Our feeble efforts do not merit us salvation. It is only through your son that we find life everlasting. Thank you, God, for choosing us. Thank you God for sending us into your vineyard. Thank you God for not treating us as we deserve to be treated. Through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.

Take care and have a very blessed day!


Sunday morning prayer

Hey there…long time no see.  No…it’s not that you haven’t been here for a while it’s that I haven’t stopped by my own blog for a couple days.  So please allow me to make excuses here:
(1) The busyness of September seemed to sneak up on me.
(2) The busyness of September seemed to sneak up on me.
…and (3) The busyness of September seemed to sneak up on me.

That is enough said on that.  I think I am beginning to get a hold of things now so you will see me a little more in the coming weeks.

Anyway…the Gospel text I am preaching on today comes from Matthew 18:21-35.  This is the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  Peter asks Jesus the question, “How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Seven times?“.  Jesus goes on to basically say, “You forgive continuously.   There is no number.”  Then we get this parable.  What hits me square in the face is the contrast in debts.  The debt God forgave me and the debt I often refuse to forgive others.  This is indeed a convicting parable.  The debt we owed God was a debt we could not hope to repay but yet God says, “I love you so much and I want so much to be in a relationship with you that I am going to forgive this debt of yours.”  Wow…that is an amazing God.  Let’s go and do likewise…forgiving others the sins they have committed against us; showing them Christ’s love.

Let’s pray…
Gracious and forgiving God, we can’t even begin to express how thankful we are for the forgiveness you show us in Jesus Christ.  We are so unworthy.  But yet you love us anyway.  Grant us strength to forgive others as you have forgiven us. So we may mend and nurture relationships with them as you do with us.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.