The Cornerstone

The following is the Great Thanksgiving preface that I wrote for the Holy Communion liturgy for today. I was inspired by the Gospel text from Luke 20:9-18; the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. A church not built on Jesus will surely fall…

It is indeed right and salutary
that we should at all times and in all places
give thanks and praise to you,
oh God,
holy, mighty and awesome.
You built the Church on the foundation of Jesus,
Your anointed and only Son.
Through faith in him our sins have been forgiven
and thus we have been clothed in righteousness
and are justified in Your sight.
Oh God,
what an awesome thing to be at peace with You
and in You
for all eternity.
And so we shout out Alleluias each and every day
as we recall your amazing grace.
And so we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

Transform

Jesus bids me to follow him,
and not to live a life so grim.
For really there is no other way,
to meet God on that glorious Day.
For to save my life in the here and now,
is to forfeit my life while others do bow.
So You sent me Your Spirit so I could hear,
and thus I embrace my Savior so dear.
Your grace and mercy is an awesome gift,
oh God, do help me, that I may never drift.
Guide and show me Your most holy way,
forgiving me when I most certainly will stray.
So transform my life that I may show,
Your glory, oh God, that all may know.

The Pastor -|—

Brand New

Oh Lord,
You live in me and I in You,
and by Your grace, You don’t give what I’m due.
You heal and redeem;
You lift up and on You I lean.
You make alive,
and indeed I thrive.
Oh Lord,
Hear me as I cry out,
even as I often doubt.
Increase in me Your Spirit,
that I may shout of You and others hear it.
May I rejoice
and make noise.
May I show it
and others know it.
For You, oh Lord, live in me and I in You,
and by Your grace I am made brand new.

The Pastor -|—

Prayer for the Unborn

This prayer comes from a grieving heart. There’s more that can be prayed and more that should be prayed and more that should/needs to be done, but this is a start. Let us not forget the innocent and may we never cease to fight…

Holy God,
Author of life,
Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of life;
You are Holy and Awesome,
and greatly to be worshiped.

Oh God,
I am grieved,
as I reflect and mourn the slaughter of the innocent.
How can this be?
How can anyone conceive of such an evil?
How can anyone savagely kill?
I am grieved and horrified.
Oh God, help us…

May we remember the unborn;
precious children known, woven together and formed by You.
It pains me, oh God, that many take these children for granted;
saying they don’t matter.
Some contend that they have no rights;
that life is something that is in the hands of man.
But You are clear in scripture that life is of You;
that You know us from the moment of conception;
and that life is precious to You.
Oh God, may You convict such people,
who think and believe otherwise,
and lead them to repentance.

For the women who feel that their only choice is to end the life of their child, please reveal to them the preciousness of the one they carry.
Help them to see that all life is valuable,
and if they aren’t called to parent their child,
lead them to adoption resources
so another couple may parent this precious life.
Oh God, have mercy and reveal Yourself.

For those who choose silence over action;
give them a voice.
Give them courage and boldness.
Raise up in them a holy desire to speak and make noise.
Lead them via Your Holy Spirit and proclaim Your love.
Guide them in ways of justice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

For those who feel helpless;
overwhelm them with Your presence.
Overwhelm them, so much so, that they may not feel alone.
May they know You as their Fortress,
and thus not be afraid;
choosing action over silence and complacency;
choosing life over death.

And finally,
Father God,
if I may be permitted to speak just one more time on this matter:
Have mercy on this land;
a country that slaughters the innocent.
But if it is Your judgment to punish this land,
(and I could hardly blame You),
I beg that You may save the faithful remnant as You did Lot and his family, but not before You give people one more chance to repent.

Have mercy, oh God, and heal this land.
May we not sacrifice our children on the altar of Satan.
May we not take them for granted.
May we see life precious and valuable.
May we stop the slaughter of the innocent.
May the little ones be allowed to live.
May we choose action over complacency.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

Share and pass this on as you feel so move. To God be the glory.

The Pastor -|—

God Pressing On

Holy communion liturgy based on my preaching text ~ Philippians 3:12-16

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, King of all creation. Through Jesus Christ You pressed on to make us Your own; though we are sinful. You continue to press on in pursuing Your sheep as we stray. You press on in Your forgiveness of us though we rebel. Oh God, may we press on to know You better and better; drawing closer that we may have deeper intimacy with You. And so, because of Your amazing grace; Your relentless pressing on, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

My brothers and sisters in Christ…press on 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Soaking In

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
[Romans 3:23-24]

Did you notice that above verse? Please don’t tell me you skipped it just to get to the “good stuff”. Read the verse. Now, read it again and this time include yourself in the word “all“. Now, read the verse again, keeping yourself in the word “all” and now, soak in the words “are justified by his grace as a gift“. Are you feeling silly for skipping that verse the first time?

My point is that YOU are a sinner, but through the grace of God in Jesus Christ, you are justified; made right in God’s eyes, as a GIFT.

GIFT!

GRACE!

No strings attached
No fine print
No bait and switch

Through faith in Jesus (which is a gift) you are justified by his grace.

Wow, I mean, WOW!

Soak that in.

A sinner saved by God.

Justified.

Wow!

The Pastor -|—

Understanding Repentance Rightly

I am working through a devotional series in my YouVersion Bible app called Acts of Repentance. The first two days were great, but day three really bothered me and thus I wrote a correction for them.

Day 1 focused on Psalm 51 where David is writing following his affair with Bathsheba and subsequently being called out on it. The devotion gave a list of four things we should do: (1) Acknowledge our sin, (2) Ask for forgiveness, (3) Ask for renewal, and finally, (4) Ask God for help to use your sin to teach those who are engaged in sin and are in need of repentance. I thought that list was helpful.

Day 2 focused on Luke 13:1-8…
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.

The take away from this devotion was: (1) What fruit are you bearing in your life currently? (2) What sins do you need to repent of in order to start bearing the kind of fruit God desires. Once again, helpful.

But now, day 3…

From 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Here’s the beginning of the devotion that followed this text:
Repentance results in forgiveness. We repent and God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Repentance is our action and forgiveness is God’s reaction to us out of His perfect love for us.

NO, NO, NO!!!

What this is saying is that forgiveness is dependent on our action. True, we need to make a confession of our sin but repentance is not something we do in order to curry favor with God so that we can be forgiven, but rather repentance is something we do BECAUSE we are forgiven. Repentance is something we do to honor God because God is worthy. When we make repentance a work, then God’s grace is taken out of the picture. Remember the woman caught in adultery? The Pharisees wanted to stone her for her offense but after Jesus silenced the crowd he turned to the woman and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” The forgiveness came first and the call to repent came next. True, there was no confession on the woman’s part (at least nothing that was recorded) but the point is that Jesus didn’t wait for her to clean up her life first.

God acts first. We respond.

Thus the devotional should have read:
Forgiveness results in repentance. We repent because God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Forgiveness is God’s action and repentance is our reaction to God because of His perfect love for us through Jesus Christ.

There, that works. I wonder of the author of this devotion will humbly accept my correction 🙂

The Pastor -|—