RSS

Monthly Archives: August 2018

Peter and John — Matthew 15:10-20

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Matthew 15:10-20

Dear God, it takes a special kind of humility to be the one to ask what everyone else is thinking but too scared to say. Notice how the NIV puts it. Peter asks the question, but Jesus tells “them.” They were all thinking it. It was just probably silently, not wanting to appear foolish.

That reminds me of a Mark Twain quote that I’ve always gravitated towards: “Better to remain silent and appear foolish than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Now, I still think this is right when it comes to trying to show people how smart you are, but it’s okay to appear foolish when it comes to humbly asking questions and admitting I don’t know.

Peter blew into a lot of situations that made him look foolish, that’s true. But that part of his personality also led him into being willing to ask the potentially embarrassing question. He wanted to know and he thought it was foolish to be unsure. It might cost him some pride, but, to him, it was worth it.

Father, I know I need to let my ego go more. I’m in a couple of roles in my life now where I don’t want to appear foolish. But it’s also important that I really understand what’s going on. I’m thinking about a board on which I currently serve. I don’t need the impetuous part of Peter’s character in the boardroom, but I need his humility and his desire to be the best he can be. Help me to get there so that you can use me as much as possible.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 30, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John

 

Tags: , ,

Peter and John — Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:22-33

Dear God, what I don’t understand about Peter in this story is, how did it even enter his mind that he should go out there?

If I think about it, they had been watching you do these fantastic miracles. Maybe he just got overwhelmed by the moment and seeing this new, amazing miracle of Jesus walking on the water and he decided he wanted to try it too.

But back to my original question. What was it about his personality that took his mind there? I think Peter was a dreamer. Peter was probably an idea guy. If he were to be in an office, he would probably be the one on the room arguing that we should try this strategy and that strategy. The kind of person that I’ve always described as shooting first and seeing what they killed later. They always see possibilities. They aren’t necessarily great at execution, but they are usually an important aspect of leading a company.

Father, the reason I’m going through this is not because I want to or think I should be more like Peter. I understand that you made me to not be that kind of person. But I do think you want me to appreciate the Peters you have put into my life. I need them. I need them to dream for me—to make me uncomfortable. No, they aren’t perfect either. They need to be tempered. But it’s that type of person on which you chose to build your church. There is certainly something very necessary about them. Help me to really understand all of this and learn from it.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John

 

Tags: , ,

“Why Me, Lord?” by Kris Kristofferson

Why Me, Lord?” by Kris Kristofferson 

Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I’ve known
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth loving you
Or the kindness you’ve shown.

Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

Tell me Lord, if you think there’s a way
I can try to repay
All I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself
On my way back to you.
 

Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

  

Dear God, I’m not as concerned about the lyrics of this song as I am the testimony given my Kris Kristofferson before he sings it in this video. Basically, sitting with other country singers such as Willie Nelson, he gives his testimony and it’s really quite beautiful. Some pull quotes:

Pastor: “If anyone is lost, raise your hand.”

Kristofferson: I didn’t go to church a lot, and the notion of raising my hand was out of the question…all of a sudden, I felt my hand going up…

Pastor: “If anybody is ready to accept Jesus, come down to the front of the church.”

Kristofferson: I thought that would never happen, and I found myself getting up and walking down with all these people.

Pastor: “Are you ready to accept Jesus Christ into your life?”

Kristofferson: I said, “I don’t know.” I didn’t know what I was doing there…I can’t even remember what he was saying. Whatever it was, it was such a release for me that I found myself weeping in public, and I felt this forgiveness that I didn’t know I even needed.”

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon called, “What are we selling?” It was about the Gospel. The woman who sent this to me was in that sermon, and I replied to her, “This is what we are selling.” 

Who is lost? What a simple question that requires an answer. I remember feeling lost. Thankfully, I don’t currently feel that way, although there have been times since I’ve been a Christian that I have felt completely overwhelmed by my life and at a complete loss.  

I think the part that touched me so much was the last line I quoted. He mentioned a release and he mentioned feeling a forgiveness that I didn’t know I even needed. How many of us are too proud to ever admit we need forgiveness. There is simply no way we can call ourselves a Christian without first coming to the point of recognizing our lostness, humbling ourselves before you, and asking for and experiencing your forgiveness. It’s that release of ourselves and the façade we paint for the world that brings the tears, I think. 

Father, help me to know how to offer this to my friends, my family, and even those I only barely know. Help me to be exactly who you need me to be in every moment. 

In Jesus’ name I pray, 

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 28, 2018 in Hymns and Songs

 

Tags: , , , ,

Peter and John – Matthew 8:14-15

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Matthew 8:14-15

Dear God, I wonder what kind of son-in-law Peter was. And what happened to Peter’s wife and possibly children. This new life was not what they signed up for. Where would they get money? How long would Peter be gone? How many of the other disciples had families and what became of them? This is one of those great mysteries for me. What was the cost that everyone involved paid Jesus’ earthly ministry. What cost did the pay for me?

I suppose I’ve never considered the debt I not only owe to you, but also to the disciples and their families. Jesus needed them as part of their earthly work, and I am a needy recipient of this work.

Father, there’s a lot I don’t know about this, but there are people who sacrifice for me very day whom I don’t appreciate enough. Soldiers. First responders. The list is too long and complicated for me to get into here, but it’s real—especially in my role as a nonprofit director. We couldn’t do anything we do without the help of others. I am grateful to them, starting with Peter’s wife and her family. Well, starting before that even. Mary and Joseph gave their lives for your plan for me. I’m grateful to them as well. Help me to live in that gratitude, and live up to that gift.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 27, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John

 

Tags: , , , ,

Peter & John — Matthew 4:18-22

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

Matthew 4:18-22

 

Dear God, I’ve decided I’d like to learn more about Peter and John, how they related to you, and how they compare with each other. To that end, I’m going to start a series where I look at all of the Bible stories that include them as well as the books that they wrote. They were very different people, and yet they were both critical to your earthly ministry and the formation of the church thereafter.  

In this case, I just noticed how Matthew captures these stories. The first people you called were sets of brothers. It wasn’t Matthew, working alone as a tax collector. It was Simon (later renamed Peter—I’ll need to get deeper into that) and Andrew, and then James and John (I wonder if Matthew listed each set of brothers by age or by his perception of their importance). I wonder if it was easier for them to break with their families if they went along with their brothers. Did Simon go along more willingly since Andrew went along too? James with John?  

It can be hard to feel like I am doing the absolute right thing according to your will and feel at odds with your family. I have several examples of my own life, but one example I’ve been thinking about lately is the example of Joseph and Mary. I’m sure their parents were very disappointed with how their lives were turning out. Did Joseph have living parents, and did they express any disapproval to him? After all, he married a pregnant girl and moved with her to Egypt. On the surface, it’s a disastrous result for your child back then. And then the family moved back to Nazareth with Jesus still a boy. Did Jesus understand isolation from this? Did he intentionally call the brothers together for their sake because he saw something in his dad’s experience? I know that I am making all kinds of wild guesses here, and that can be unsafe. But it just seems interesting that Matthew’s first recording of Jesus’ called disciples were brothers.  

Father, give me the courage to do what needs to be done at any given time, regardless of who joins me in it. But do a few things for me, please. Help me to really be sure it is you I am following in it. And please help me to be completely united with my wife through any of it. Speak to her the same thing you are speaking to me at any given time so that me might be one soul, mind, heart, and body at all times.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Psalm 119:167-168

I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.

Psalm 119:167-168

Dear God, I was part of interviewing people lately to be part of a board, and one of the questions they gave us to ask was about a time when the candidate had to bend or break the rules. One of the candidates could not come up with an example of a time when they broke the rules. He said, “I’m a rule follower. I’ve been known to question the rules or try to change the rules if I thought they weren’t right, but my personality is to follow the rules.”

When he left, there was a lot of discussion about that one particular answer. I have to say, it’s probably similar to how I would have answered. But the people in the room started punting out all of the ways we break rules every day. Minor traffic violations. Little lies we tell. So yes, in that context, I can see where I’m a rule bender.

As I’ve thought about it, I don’t think there’s any way to be a rule follower 100%. Like in negotiations, when you start at an extreme, I think some of our rules are set at an extreme so that even a bending of them will still keep us within societal norms.

Are your laws the same? This last week, I participated in a deception of someone with some other people. We did it so we wouldn’t hurt the person’s feelings. I was talking to one of my “co-conspirators” later about how there was a part of us that felt a little bad about it, but we wouldn’t have done it differently because we love this person too much to have hurt their feelings. It was what we southerners call a white lie (maybe that’s not just a southern term).

Then there are the important laws that I break. Hatred. Judgment. Lust. Coveting. Lethargy. Idolatry. Yes, if I’m honest with myself, I break rules all of the time—big and small. I might like to think that I’m a rule follower, but maybe that is just part of my facade. Perhaps my heart is more corrupt than I want to admit.

Father, forgive me. Continue to break me, shape me, mold me, and fill me. Use my life to refine out the dross. There’s a line in an old Amy Grant song that says, “We’re just here to learn to love Him.” Help me to learn to be the best lover of you that I can be so that I might be as effective for you as I can be as long as you have me here, and I’ll be a great worshipper of you when I get to the other side of the Jordan.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 25, 2018 in Psalms

 

Supporting My Wife Going Catholic – Epilogue

Dear God, back in 2012, my wife was confirmed into the Catholic Church. While I went through the Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults (RCIA) with her, I decided not to be confirmed, but I still continue to worship with her.

We both wrote companion blog pieces back in 2012 about our experience back then (Megan’s series and my series). I read them all this morning–six for her and five for me. But that was six years ago and it was all still pretty new then. I thought it would be interesting to sit and pray through with you this morning what has happened over the last six years.

I guess it starts with the fact that we still attend our local Catholic Church with her being Catholic and me not. Even though I don’t go up for the Eucharist and I silently omit parts of some of the prayers with which I don’t agree (e.g. “ever virgin”), I pretty much feel like a member. While I’m not in any of the men’s groups like Knights of Columbus, we are active members of a couples group called Teams Of Our Lady (TOOL) with six other couples. There are a few people in there who came to the Catholic Church as adults, but I’m the only one who isn’t confirmed Catholic. No one seems to mind. I still stand by my statements from years ago that the people I have found there earnestly love you. It’s hard to ask for much more than that.

Here are some observations that I would now share:

  • One big thing is that we have really seen some personal trials over the last six years, and I am glad that we have continued to worship together. I don’t know how we would have gone through some situations with our children, our parents, or our careers and not be in a place where we are sitting together on most Sunday mornings.
  • We ended up having to find a compromise regarding communion. I am not allowed to participate in the Eucharist in a Catholic Church. I completely understand their logic here and do not hold that against the church. They believe that the Eucharist is something that I don’t believe it is. They don’t want me taking it if I don’t believe it. That’s fair. But I do miss communion, so on the big holidays like Easter and Christmas Eve, we go to a Protestant Church where I can have communion.
  • If she’s ever out of town on a Sunday morning, I will sometimes have a Protestant Sunday–mainly so I can have communion. I have found that our local Episcopal Church is the most reliable in having communion every Sunday and they have an early service which I prefer.
  • I attended an ACTS Retreat. I don’t want to say too much about this because they try to keep the contents of the retreat secret so that there are no spoilers for attendees. Let’s just say that I thought it was incredibly powerful and I really saw the Holy Spirit move in some of the men’s lives. While you don’t have to be Protestant to attend, it is definitely Catholic in flavor and theology. I don’t think I’ll do it again, but I am glad to have experienced it. I’ve found similarly powerful experiences at retreats at Laity Lodge.
  • We changed priests about a year ago. As with ALL leadership changes in ALL churches, there are been some who have been happy and some who are unhappy. The observation I would make about the Catholic Church is that you don’t have church splits and just start another Catholic Church. In 1993, Riesel, Texas, was a town of 800 people and five Baptist Churches. That would never happen for Catholics. People might go to a different Catholic Church in a different town, visit a Protestant Church (e.g. Episcopal) until the current regime leaves, or just stop going to church altogether. I know of people who did that with the last priest and I know some who have done that with this priest. But in the Catholic Church, you aren’t there because of the priest. You are there to worship and take part in the Eucharist.
  • Our children are grown and out of the house. One of them doesn’t have anything to do with church (that I know of) and the other sometimes visits with relatives in the town where they live. My wife and I pray together daily for both of them and have faith that you have them on the path that you have for them. I still can’t help but feel like that whole period of transition for them came at a critical and formative time and they were somehow damaged by not having continuity of church family at that stage of their lives. And the transition had nothing to do with my wife becoming Catholic. We were transitioning before she started attending St. Mary’s.
  • My wife seems to be really happy in the Catholic Church. She has no regrets, and, therefore, I have no regrets either. If she’s out of town on a Sunday she will usually try to visit the local Catholic Church. And I can say that, while I am not 100% lock-step with Catholic theology, the people I have found there earnestly love you and Jesus. I can’t ask for much more than that.

If I were advising anyone going through something similar, I would give them the advice my friend gave me way back in the spring of 2011. I told him that Megan was going to the Catholic Church, I was going to a nondenominational church, and I was feeling disconnected from her spiritually. He told me the words that I would say to someone else in that situation: “You need to suck it up and go to church with your wife.”

Father, thank you for continuing me on this journey. The last few years have been hard, and I hope I haven’t let you down too many times. I know that I’m grateful for you, your love, your help, and your provision. Thank you for my wife. Continue to lead us, to bless us through others at church and to bless them through us. We are your community, one holy, catholic (with a little c) and apostolic church. May we all bring you glory.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

 

Tags: , , ,