Friday, March 30, 2012

Are You Guilty?

I heard a story when I was in seminary that has stayed with me for nearly 3 decades now.  A British writer and satirist once said that he sent an anonymous letter to ten prominent people in London saying, "I know what you have done.  If I were you I would leave London immediately."  The writer claimed he checked on all ten and all of them left town the week they received the letter. 

I wondered if that were true, it could be easily made up by the writer and who would admit or verify his action?.  I also wondered, could people really be walking around with that much guilt?  I do not know about the truth of the prank but after twenty plus years of pastoring, I do believe that people do walk around with that much guilt. 

We do not need to.  We have a God who forgives, in fact scripture says in Micah 7:18, that God, "delights to show mercy."  He not only forgives but finds pleasure in doing it.  Are you walking around with some guilt in your baggage?  Come this Sunday we are going to work on unpacking those bags.

For the journey...


Friday, March 23, 2012

Poingnant Pagent Moments

This Sunday we celebrate what God did through the 27 years of the Victoria Christmas Pageant.  It is right for us to take time to reflect, to remember and to rejoice in what God did.  As I look back on my years of involvement, a couple of moments come to mind that will stay in my memories.

Every performance as I waited in the dark for my moment to make an appeal to people toward the end, Jaime Sciba would walk by near me.  She played Mary beautifully as the mother of a baby, as the mother of a child and as the mother of the man who died on the cross.  On her way out after they had taken the body of Jesus away, she would be crying as she left the cross scene.  Not acting like she was crying, every night she was crying real tears.  Every night, it touched me.  That is a picture of the realism and the dedication that many put into pageant night after night, year after year.  Thank you Jamie and thanks to all of you who made the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus real.

The second moment was on an evening when a woman who was wheel chair bound, blind and dying of cancer came to a pageant.  We found a special place for her to be near the action so she could hear and sense it.  Afterwards, her family wheeled  her over to the Hospitality Suite.  She had a special request; she wanted to touch Jesus' face.  Mike Baker had portrayed Jesus that night; he came over and bent down so she could run her hands over his face so she could see in her mind's eye what Jesus in pageant looked like.  There were very few dry eyes among those who watched that scene.  Her family continued to come to pageant after her death.   They seemed to find comfort in it.

God did great things through the pageant.  A way we can honor Him is by coming together to celebrate the things we saw Him do.  We will do that this Sunday after the 10:45 am service.  If you have not heard, I hope you will come and stay for the lunch and the celebration.  Marking and celebrating what God has done is a great way to be ready to follow Him into the future.

For the journey...


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Hope that Brings Healing

I saw the results of a study done by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago dealing with patients struggling with depression.  Let me go quickly to what they found, "belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment."  Researchers found that those polled about their religious beliefs and scoring in the top third of a scale charting "religious well-being" were 75% more likely to get better with medical treatment than the rest of the patients.  "In our study, the positive response to medication had little to do with the feelings of hope that typically accompanies spiritual belief, " said study director Patricia Murphy.  "It was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared."

This is just another indicator of the power of the truth, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son..."
We see the love of God poured out into the world through the life, words and actions of Jesus.  He is the greatest word on the fact that God loves us.  When we become fully convinced of that, even in our lowest moments, it can change our lives. 

This Sunday we will look at some words that helped me through some pretty dark days.  They are words of Jesus pointing to his care for his disciples in their dark days.  Surprisingly they are words about joy.  I have come to see that joy is a way of looking at life more than a way of feeling about life.  When I do look at life from the perspective of  Jesus gives it brings joy.  Joy then brings positive feelings with it, but first I have to choose to look at seeing things a certain way.  The way a caring Jesus says that I can.  I look forward to Sunday.  You can too.

For the journey...


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meeting People Where They Are...

The Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building at Texas A&M is located in the Northgate area of town.  It is near the campus but surrounded by shops, restaurants, parking garages and bars.  On the weekend nights there is a lot of foot traffic around the BSM, mainly to the bars in that area which are the most popular in town.

Once a semester, the BSM hosts a late night pancake supper at their building and invites those walking by from the bars to come in have some pancakes and share some conversation.  The pancake supper goes on until after the bars have closed and a pretty good number of those who have just closed down the bars visit the BSM for the pancakes.

This past weekend my daughters worked at the pancake supper - or maybe it would be better to call it breakfast?  What do you call a meal at 2:00 am?  They told me of conversations with people who came in, many of course had had too much to drink.  Some were open to talking, some were even open to sharing with a team of BSM students their prayer needs.  Some were even open to being prayed for right there.  Some were not open to anything but pancakes.

My daughters also told me about a conversation that a BSM student named Eric (roommate last semester to Northsider Caleb Jenstch) had with  a student from India.  The student had just been in the US for one week,  had just gotten to the campus and was open to conversation.  Eric got to talk to him and got to share the plan of salvation with him.  It was the first time in his life that this Hindu, Indian grad student had ever heard about Jesus.  He was not ready yet to act on what he had heard but a seed was planted.

What would you be willing to do to share the love of Jesus with those who have not heard?  Would you stay up to 2:00 am to serve pancakes to college students who had been drinking?  What could you do right here in Victoria this coming week to show people that Jesus loves them and we do too?  Come to church this Sunday ready to deal with that last question.

For the journey...


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Praying for Healing

Many of you know I struggle with a foot problem.  Surgery did not correct it, prayer and a number of other things are helping it.  This week a new pain in the knee above my bad foot developed.  I did some reading and it turns out the kind of pain I was experiencing in my knee can come as a consequence of my foot problem.  Bummer.  I had been experiencing some gradual improvement in my foot, now my knee was hurting bad enough I did not feel I could exercise on my elliptical machine.

Yesterday, with out any mention of this new knee problem, three people at church asked me about my foot.  When asked, I just said I wasn't having a good week.  This morning the knee pain was gone.  Coincidence or answer to prayer?   People have been very faithful to pray for my feet.  I know that all the people who asked yesterday had previously prayed for me and I have no doubt they did after my answer.  It was also the reason they asked the question - they wanted to know how something they had prayed for was going.

I think it was Mother Teresa who said something like this, "The more I pray, the more 'coincidences' I see."  That is always a part of answered prayer - do we see it as an answer or do we see it as a coincidence.  I always have to use faith to believe in answered prayer and to see answered prayer.  Right now, I am a firm believer.

What was your last coincidence or answer and have you decided yet which it was?  This Sunday we will talk about that.

For the journey...