Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Verse Study: 1 Peter 5:8-9

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” 

The verse is a great reminder to me in the following manner:

- keep the 3 C's: Calm, Cool and Collective.

- no matter what is happening - keep the guard up - which is tough

- we are no alone in this journey

- sufferring won't last forever -THANK GOD

- God gets the last word

Maybe, firm grip on Faith is what really jumps out to me.

Martin Luther King Jr used this language in regards to faith:

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.”
From a personal standpoint, I think that we have done this in my new ministry adventure. We did not and still do not have the answers on many issues regarding this move but we took the step.

The ministries at the church and the university are going great. It is tough with the wife and kids in Indiana and me being in Minnesota. It is very difficult in not knowing where we will live when they come. It is tough for me not really having a place to call home while I am here. I am still not sure if the finances are there to cover our expenses but I have faith and I hope that peace is there at times. Even though, I know that my stress level is through the roof at times.

We are so thankful for the opportunity that God has presented us and the individuals that are helping us through this journey.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Verse Study: Eph. 2:8-9

Ephesians 2:8-9 MSG

“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”  
This passage to me is a great passage that begins to open up many doors to theological discourse. However, I am also an individual that likes to go simple at times and connect the passage to my daily life and the things that are occurring in the world.

This is the sentence that jumps out to me:

God does both the making and saving.

So, many times, I think that we (intentionally or uninitentionally) put it on us and not God. His love and grace is truly a gift to us. There is nothing that we can do but trust.

One of the challenging things for us is to JOIN him in the work He does. Too often, I see individuals with a mindset of we are going to go and do this ....... when we do not realize that God is already at work there and we are going and joining/partnering with the mission taking place.

With me working / serving / member in an ELCA, I love looking for components and aspects of Martin Luther. I think this quote can be a springboard from this passage An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans :
Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.

I hope that I do not brag. I hope that I am always pointing to God.  Everything is from Him.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Verse Study: Romans 12:1

Romans 12:1

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  

This passage really hits home to me. I have always loved the writings of Romans, ever since my Doctrine of Grace class in seminary. Chapter 12 in particular and the deviotional style writing of the message in this passage really jumps out to me.

Over the last six years, I have been working with/in ELCA churches and here are some words about Romans and Romans 12 from Martin Luther.

This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.
So, I wonder how many people have memorized it ? I know that I have not. However, as I read Romans and as I read and reread this passage over and over again, I could see the immense benefit if you would choose to do so. So, today, I am like the cow: I chew, chew, regurgitate and chew some more on it.

Luther shares this about Romans 12

In chapter 12, St. Paul teaches the true liturgy and makes all Christians priests, so that they may offer, not money or cattle, as priests do in the Law, but their own bodies, by putting their desires to death. Next he describes the outward conduct of Christians whose lives are governed by the Spirit; he tells how they teach, preach, rule, serve, give, suffer, love, live and act toward friend, foe and everyone. These are the works that a Christian does, for, as I have said, faith is not idle.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fitting In

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to some university students about fitting in. It was a great conversation that we had and their struggle on where and how to fit in with the university setting. They have not found their group yet and as the days passes; they see groups becoming tighter and not sure if they can squeeze into those groups and their not sure if there are others out there not in groups that they can form into a group.

There was also the common conversation about alcohol and parties and what do you do if you do not drink and you do not want to associate with the crowd or you do not want to hang out, just so you can be the DD.

Out of the conversation, I was reminded of the following;

Oscar Wilde “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
I am hoping that we can continue the conversation and that we can continue to be a place that creates a safe enviornment for individuals to explore and be themselves.