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Number Three: He Called Us WHAT?!

Here in the middle of Lent 2017, it’s my joy to share Ten Reminders for Laypeople…but wow they sure apply to us pastors as well. With gratitude to Linna Bradford who graciously agreed to let me share these with you, here’s number three —

Friendship is like a BOOK: It takes a few minutes to burn, but it takes years to write.

— I know that.

So do you.

Friends are precious and priceless.  For real.

We get that.

Now get this: I have called you my friends.  (John 15:15)

While others write and talk about being his fan or his follower, Christ Jesus says we can be his friends.

That’s what Jesus said: friends.

Number Four: Enjoying or Worrying

Here in the middle of Lent 2017, it’s my joy to share Ten Reminders for Laypeople…but wow they sure apply to us pastors as well. With gratitude to Linna Bradford who graciously agreed to let me share these with you, here’s number four —

All things in life are temporary. If going well, enjoy it, they will not last forever. If going wrong, don’t worry, they can’t last long either.

— Uh oh. This one can’t be good.

But wait.

What do our Bibles say?

Quick survey:

We were only born yesterday and know nothing, because our time here is like a shadow. Job 8:9 (Oh come on, Joe, that’s from The Book of Job…what can you expect?)

We are like a vapor. Our days float away like smoke. Psalm 144:4 (Really? THAT’s in a Psalm?! Maybe it’s just a weird translation. Time for some New Testament.)

We are a only a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 (Never noticed this in James before. Let’s go back to The Old Testament.)

We wither away like grass. Psalm 102:11 (Does this get any better, ever? Let’s try The New Testament again, please.)

People are like grass; our beauty is like a flower in the field. 1st Peter 1:24  (Phew! Now this is more like it!)

But then that same verse goes on to say, The grass withers and the flower fades. (Okay, okay, same image, I get it. What’s Jesus say about this?)

Look at how God decorates the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is gone! Won’t God do even better with you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30 (Flowers, colors, okay, I like that. So yeah, I guess God will do even better with me.)

I came that you may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10b (That’s what Jesus said? Good!)

Or as my mom, who’s 104, loves to say, “Enjoy every moment.”

Let’s do that, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, “Enjoy every moment.”

 

Number Five: Rich in Both Gold & Diamonds

Here in the middle of Lent 2017, it’s my joy to share Ten Reminders for Laypeople…but wow they sure apply to us pastors as well. With gratitude to Linna Bradford who graciously agreed to let me share these with you, here’s number five —

Old Friends are Gold!  New Friends are Diamond!  If you get a Diamond, don’t forget the Gold!  Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a Base of Gold!

— I’m a rich man, because I’m blessed beyond belief with great friends.

Some of us have been together longer than we’ll admit, while others of us are still learning how to spell one another’s names correctly. I’m grateful for all.

Someone much wiser than I’ll ever be wrote this of  friends: Some friends come and go, but a true friend sticks by you like faithful family.” (Proverbs 18:24, RDSV)

By the grace of God, let’s you and me try and be faithful like the latter kind of friend today. Deal?

We Are, or Is God?

Dan R. Dick says in Disciplines 2017 (Upper Room Books, page 89), and the highlights are mine —

“Years ago I attended two churches in the same community. One congregation had about 3,000 members, while the other boasted just over 300. Both congregations were having celebrations of their ministries.

“When I attended the larger of the two churches, the lead pastor proudly proclaimed, ‘Let us celebrate together all the good and wonderful work we are doing for God!’

“The lay leader of the smaller church framed it a little differently. She said, ‘Friends, let us celebrate together all the amazing things that God is doing through us!‘”

Big difference.

Still Wearing That?

This startling image is from TWD, Season 6.

Another character asks the priest, “Why are you still wearing that?”

He quickly answers, “I’m still who I was.”

You and I are wearing parts of our past right now as well.

Do they help define us, or do they limit us? Does one cancel out the other? Don’t be too quick with your answers.

Back to the priest in his collar carrying a rifle.

There’s a long pause after he says, “I’m still who I was.”

Then, speaking a little slower, he adds, “I think.”

Are you caught somewhere between your past and your future, between who you were and who you’re becoming?

In the midst of all of our transitions and even our missteps and detours, Psalm 139:7-12 is still true:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

And Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said, I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).

“I’m still who I was…. I think.”

It’s okay to live into the questions. That’s where the answers are.

Number Six: Losing Hope

Here in the middle of Lent 2017, it’s my joy to share Ten Reminders for Laypeople…but wow they sure apply to us pastors as well. With gratitude to Linna Bradford who graciously agreed to let me share these with you, here’s number six —

Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, GOD smiles from above and says, “Relax, Sweetheart, it’s just a bend…. not the end!

— You have stories.

You have commentary.

I know you do.

So…what say ye?

 

Number Seven: Solving Problems

 

Here in the middle of Lent 2017, it’s my joy to share Ten Reminders for Laypeople…but wow they sure apply to us pastors as well. With gratitude to Linna Bradford who graciously agreed to let me share these with you, here’s number seven —

When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when GOD doesn’t solve your problems, HE has faith in your abilities.

— I love this. For quite some time now, I’ve added this to the end of Benedictions: “…God who loves you, and trusts you.”

And not just with some of our own personal problems.

Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.  But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

But Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.”

That’s pretty clear.

That’s not subtle.

That’s from The Gospel According To Mark, chapter 6.

That’s what Jesus said: “You give them something to eat.”

He trusts us and our abilities.

So, what problems is God in Christ calling you and me to solve today?

Let’s start with one. A real one. A situation where we can make a difference.

In other words, “You give them something to eat.”

That’s what Jesus said.