Friday, April 21, 2017

The Pane (pain?)

For those who follow this blog, There may be some delays or even a long pause between post. My wife was diagnosed with lymphoma this week and everything has turned sideways in our lives. I wrote what happen today, it seems to say a lot. 

The Pane

Smiles were everywhere, laughter filled the grounds. The sun peaked in and out of wispy clouds. All the traditional picnic foods filled peoples’ plates and set on tables waiting to be served for those who wanted more. Everyone is having a good time. I thought “everyone but me.”

A smile was plastered on my face, but I couldn’t help but remember the function I just left. The church was asked to be there but no one else showed up. I left as things were winding down, knowing that it would be proper to help clean up. I had justified my leaving and not cleaning up on the fact my people weren’t there and that I didn’t feel like it. I showed up and that was going to have to be good enough.

As I turned my head to look around at all of my friends. I saw the storm cloud roll in. How can someone look so self-righteous dressed like that,” I asked myself as I saw Brother Smith?

My heart started pounding as he I saw his face. The corners of his mouth were down turned and his nose and eyes seemed drawn inward. His hands were clasped across his chest. He's the perfect image of a dower nun preparing to lecture a naughty student. A moment before he stood in front of me, the corners of his mouth turned up into a very small smile, though he managed to keep the rest of his face untouched by this small bit of warmth.  

There is no good answer I can give him, I thought to myself but I keep a smile and said, “Brother Smith, can I help you?” 

I began to put my hand out for him to shake but quickly pulled them back as I saw he wasn’t moving his hands.

“Brother, I am so disappointed in you.” The small upturn in his mouth turned down as he paused.

My smile vanished and a small determined puff of wind passed from my lips. I lost sight of everyone around me as my eyes narrowed. My hands closed.
Brother Smith turned his head, one eye looking down the side of his nose and said slowly as if I were a small child. "It is customary to have your church help clean up, you know.”     

I just looked back but said nothing. My vision opened up enough to see my wife coming in from the side with a concerned look on her face.

 “If you could have just gone around and made sure the light bulbs were screwed in.” Brother Smith mimed screwing in a light bulb.

My mouth dropped opened for a moment and then it shut. You idiot, I thought but I may have said it. My heart beat like a Thoroughbred in a race and I spun way from him sending a table of food soaring. A chair sitting in my path went also. I made straight for the door of the house. I was a tornado anything in my path flew out from the center.

You’re not angry with him, I told myself. There seemed to be two of me. The tornado heading toward the house and my rational mind detecting and analyzing. Well, yes you are, but that isn’t the whole reason and you know that. I told myself as I watched ketchup and hotdogs fly. The eyes of my congregation were wide and mouths were open as they watched me even as children stopped playing so they could see what was happening.

“I’m not angry with him” I yelled back, “Explain it to him, dear.”

That’s mature. I told myself. She is the one who got the cancer diagnosis and you’re leaving the explaining to her.

I don’t care, I argued silently with myself.

You’re angry at God. The analytical side thought.

Of course, I am. I thought as I slammed the porch door. A moment later I slammed open the door to the house. The top of the door had three vertical panes of glass and all three broke loose from the frame. I leaned against the door and slide to the ground. One of the panes followed me and broke into four unequal pieces. I stared at the jagged shards as the tears began to flow. It’s not fair, and don’t tell me life isn’t fair, I already know that. I, I…

You’re hurting and this is normal.

I know, but this hurts. I paused, I love God but this isn’t right.

 The analytical side became quite as I heard someone entering the porch. The light changed and I assumed it was the shadow of my wife.

I looked at the glass laying in front of me and said, “Be careful, it’s dangerous here.”

(then everything changed, as I opened my eyes and discovered I had been sleeping)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Holy Week Missing post

This being Holy Week in the church calendar I will not be posting. Even as I prepare this note the week before my schedule is filled, but the Study will begin again the day after Easter.  

Have a blessed week. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Personal or Small Group Study of Matthew 6:19-24 Storing treasure

For the next few weeks (Monday and Thursday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. (Sorry this one is late)


Question: Can you finish this sentence? He who dies with the most toys _______________?

For people who seek money, fame, power or even experiences the answer to that question is that they win, but the truth is that they die.

Question: Can you finish this sentence. You can’t take it _________ ____________?

If you said to Grandma’s, you might be right, but the answer is you can’t with you. Meaning that when you die that everything you have gained is gone. It can be depressing to think but Jesus has an answer to both of these saying.

Read Matthew 6:19-24

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

There are three things, Jesus is saying in this scripture but they all connected. First, Jesus points out things on this earth eventually are gone, but that treasure can be stored up in heaven. The things that are stored up in heaven include being faithful in using what God has given you and doing good to help others (Example found in Matthew 25:14-46).

Question: What has God given you and how can you be faithful with it?

The second point Jesus makes can be confusing. When Jesus speaks of the eye being good, many people wonder today wonder what Jesus is talking about. What Jesus is talking about is where is your focus or you might say, Jesus, is asking if you are single-minded. If you are focused on God then Jesus is saying you will be filled with light (God’s goodness) but if you’re not then you will be filled with darkness and you will be in even more trouble if you think you are but really aren’t.

Jesus ties these two thought together by saying followers of him cannot love both money (and the things and experiences it buys) and God. Jesus isn’t saying money is bad but the love of it is. Jesus is saying if God isn’t first in your life then you really don’t love God.

Challenge: Ask yourself, “Is anything in my life more important than God?” Jesus isn’t saying you can’t enjoy or have things or experiences (we’ll talk about that in the next lesson). He is saying you must have your priorities lined out.

Other References: 1 Timothy 6:10; James 2:14-17; 1 John 3:17

Future Mission Project: Discuss community event or mission project as needed.

Closing Prayer- Grace to live as Christ would have us.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Personal or Small Group Study of Matthew 6:16-18 --Look I'm Spiritual

For the next few weeks (Monday and Thursday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 


QUESTION: Would you like to have your name on a building? Or be known as someone how gives away lots of money or stuff? 

Does this question sound familiar? It is the same one we used a few weeks back. Though giving money away is one way to be recognized there is another way, being recognized for being spiritual. 

QUESTION: Can you think of anywhere that being considered a spiritual person would be admired?
As this is being written the one place which stands out is in church or with religious leaning people. (if you think of another one please contact me, I want to hear it, CSA) 

QUESTION: Since we know that Jesus didn’t want us to give to be recognized by people what do you think Jesus thinks about doing spiritual things to be recognized by people? (Examples: solitary of public praying, fasting, Bible reading, or other spiritual disciplines)   

READ: Matthew 6:16-18 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Jesus teaching on not doing things to be seen of others continues. In Matthew 6:1-6, Jesus warns about pray or giving to be seen of others. Here Jesus talks about another spiritual activity, fasting. 

EXPLANATION: Fasting is giving up something usually food in conjunction with prayer to bring a request to God or to grow closer to God, by giving up something we enjoy. Giving up beef liver and brussel sprouts is not fasting (unless you really like them). Also, Biblical fasting also does not endanger the body. Fasting food for many people is not advisable because it does endanger the body (children, teens and those with medical conditions should not give up food, sorry you have to eat your vegetables).

Jesus warning is the same he gave before If you are doing spiritual activities to be noticed by others or to receive the praise of others you gain nothing spiritual from it. Jesus is not saying we should not participate in what is often referred to as spiritual disciples to be admired by others. If you are unsure what the spiritual disciplines are, ask your pastor/priest. 

What is clear is like, with prayer, Jesus is asking us what our motive is. He is not saying don’t do these things but why?

QUESTION: Let’s review: What motive is Jesus condemning? 

The Question only you can answer in the quiet of your own soul is why are you doing what you are doing? Maybe the other question you may want to ask along with prayer and fasting is why are you here, in this study? What is your real motive?