Yesterday I picked up Kaydence at daycare. As soon as she was strapped in her carseat she announced that she had eaten all her lunch, taken a nap, not had an accident and hadn’t hit any other kids. She was pretty proud. Recently she has had “issues” at day care and I had gotten in the habit of quizzing her at the end of the day on how things had gone. She had gotten the jump on me.
In my youth, the Examination of Conscience was a common spiritual exercise. At the end of the day, one would consider the day, it’s positives and negatives. Spiritual exercises seem “old-fashioned” these days. But they serve a good purpose. If we consider how we are doing on a daily basis, we are less likely to drift too far from the path.
If you google “examination of conscience” you will find several helpful guides for this exercise. I like the simple process of reviewing the ten commandments, keeping in mind Jesus warning about violating these provisions are possible even in our thought life. Then I consider the Great Commission and ask how I’m doing in that regard. Finally I consider Jesus command to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. There is always plenty to improve on after that.
If you follow this procedure for a while, you will discover that the Holy Spirit will work with you. He won’t hit you with every fault all at once, but will move through the areas of your life as you discover and then turn over to Jesus things which are not pleasing to him.
It seems to be working for my KK. It should probably work for the rest of us.
How many open doors have you walked by recently? I believe that we never lack in opportunities to serve God. Our only lack is in our perception of those opportunities. We walk down a hall with many open doors, but we don’t see them. Maybe our focus is on the ceiling not seeing doors at all. Maybe we are looking at the floor, watching each step that we take.
However, I think the biggest distraction are the closed doors. As we walk through the hall of life, we can become obsessed by what we can’t do and miss out on our opportunities. When we consider witness opportunities, we should look to those closest to us. We have a much better chance to share with those with whom we have daily contact, than we do with those who live across the ocean.
Sometimes we miss these up close opportunities, because of fear. The problem with sharing with someone we see daily is they know us. They see our walk and if it is not consistent with our talk, it will be obvious. Family offers a particular challenge in this regard. It is said no one can hurt us like those who are closest to us. To fail to share what we consider most important in life with those we consider most important, is a great betrayal.
Look around for those in confusion and doubt and pain. Those are open doors. Step forward. Open doors can quickly and unexpectedly close. Don’t miss the opportunities we have, dreaming about far away, and perhaps never possible, chances to serve.
It’s Monday and the celebration of Easter is over. Now comes the challenge of living out the Resurrection. If we believe that He is risen; there should be proof in our lives. Consider the signs of a resurrected life:
Fearlessness – The resurrection heralds the end of fear. Jesus’ most frequent greeting, Fear Not, now becomes possible. If even death has been conquered, what have we to fear? Yet fear seems to inhabit not just the world but the church. We consider the end times and shudder in fear instead of awe. We recognize that our faith is no longer “mainstream” or even “acceptable” we slip into the darkness instead of fighting to remain the salt and the light.
Holiness – We forget that to be “holy” is not to be better than thou, but set aside for a special purpose. A resurrected life is one that is set aside for a special purpose. That affects our every decision, every day.
Loving – It is truly sad that the church is considered by most of the world to be “unloving.” Yet lovingness is the characteristic which is to identify us.
Energetic Enthusiasm – A resurrected life appears as the battery charged bunny, ever moving, ever doing. God gave us one mouth, but two legs and two arms. We should do twice as much as we say.
Today is the first day of the rest of our resurrected lives.
We celebrate a simple fact this morning, He’s Alive. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried and on the third day He arose. This historical fact has more proof than many facts we take for granted. His execution and burial were public. The stone was guarded. He was seen by hundred of witnesses after He arose. His disciples were so convinced of his rising that they changed the world. Most of them died horrible deaths, yet none denied the truth of the basis for this new faith: Jesus is alive. There are few historical “facts” with that much proof.
Consider what this fact means. It means his most outlandish promise, that he would be killed, buried and rise again… was true. If we can believe that, we can believe everything He said. That He was the son, that by faith in Him we can be saved, that He is preparing a place for us and that He is coming back. If He’s Alive, everything was true and everything is changed.
If He’s Alive and everything He said was true that affects what we should be doing each day. We should be loving in Fervent Expectation of His Return. We should be telling everyone we know. We should be storing up treasures in Heaven and not on earth.
He’s Alive and we are blessed.
What a beautiful morning. There is a coolness in the air that won’t be around much longer. There is green everywhere and splashes of spring color are popping up all over. The creation is calling out, “New Life.” It certainly is no accident that we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus in the springtime.
The message of Easter is, above anything, the message of New Life. It’s marvelous that our God created the seasons so that we would get repeated reminders of the newness of life. I don’t know about you, but it takes me a lot less than a year to soil the new life I’ve been given. It’s so easy to lose the sense of purpose and enthusiasm that we are suppose to carry with us each day.
LIFE – Love in Fervent Expectation. To me that’s a great summary of what life is suppose to be about. Centrally it’s about love. We were created as an act of love and it’s an act of love that gives us new life. Our love is suppose to be the badge that identifies us as followers of Christ. By this will they know we are His. Our celebration of live is in direct proportion to the love we live out in it. True joy is experienced in the love we share. Complete purpose is found in its sacrificial, selfless expression.
But our love is not to be random and unfocused. We should be loving in Fervent Expectation of the return of our great Lover, Jesus. It is no blessing to love listlessly and without enthusiasm. Our love should be excited and exuberant. That excitement flows from the knowledge that Jesus is coming back. His return will be significant. All that we see vaguely now, will become clear. All that we enjoy now is but a deposit of the complete joy His return will herald.
It’s Resurrection weekend. It’s a celebration of New Life made possible by sacrificial death.
Rejoice and be glad.
As a young Catholic altar boy, I enjoyed all the services of Holy Week. I even was touched by the solemn ceremonies on Friday. The long reading of the Passion. The stripping of the altar. I never really bought the explanation that Friday was “Good” for us because what was “bad” for Him was “Good” for us.
I believe it is crucial to a full experience of Easter to fully understand Friday. We need to personalize Easter week. It’s not just the enormity of the world’s sin for which He died. We need to embrace the depth of our personal depravity. We need to know that although He died for all; our sin is enough to demand the sacrifice.
We have marginalized Good Friday. It this area now it is most know for the fact that more crawfish is bought and consumed that day than any other during the year. Unless you are allergic to the mud bugs, that’s not much sacrifice.
We have to live through Friday in a personal way if Sunday is to have any real meaning. We have to know the cost if we are to appreciate the value of the gift. Although it’s a beautiful day, spend some time in silent contemplation of all you have done. Read the Passion or even better watch the movie if you can. Try to gain some small understanding of the suffering so, with Christ, you can experience the glory of the rising.
It’s a Good Friday. Be blessed.
This Sunday at Amana our Pastor Emeritus, Terrell Reed, will be bringing the message. I have an insider tip that he will discuss the simplicity of the gospel. That’s a great topic. i don’t know what he plans to say, but I really believe we need to broadcast and celebrate the simplicity of the Gospel.
God sent Jesus as Good News. One of the reasons that it’s good news is that it is understandable to most everyone. It isn’t complicated theology. In fact, when someone is discuss the Good News and you find yourself confused; you can be sure you are being led astray. Confusion is a tool of Satan; not of God.
For centuries, evil men have tried to complicate the gospel. Often so that they would become necessary mediators between God and those of us who are smart enough to hear directly. These are the kind of men who discouraged reading of the scripture by the laity, asserting that such was too complicated. There are those who will take one verse of clear scripture and stretch, contort, and confuse if for an hour so that it is beyond the understanding of anyone.
The longer I am a Christian, the more I “learn” the scriptures, the greater my experience, the more I realize that it’s all about Jesus. When I find myself drifting, when my faith begins to falter, when my joy starts to wilt; I can get back on track by reminding myself: It’s all about Jesus.
Pastor I don’t know what you plan to say on Sunday, but I hail your subject of simplicity and remind you only: KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid.