Archive for April, 2013

Keep Running the Race!

April 16, 2013

This morning I wondered how many people were unable to finish the Boston Marathon due to the explosions close to the finish line. How many people were unable to get up and face work or their daily routine because our lives were interrupted yet again by evil and terror? How many of us are tempted to quit, stop short and give up when faced with enemies, adversaries, sickness, death, painful memories or fearful experiences?

Paul faced all of this after accepting God’s call to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. He knew persecution, betrayal, criticism, fear, beatings, imprisonment and trials on a regular basis. Yet he continued on with the good fight. He kept the faith and finished his course. (2 Timothy 4: 7) I am convinced that he had numerous mornings when he wanted to give up and just let the world go to hell. I am sure he ran out of patience with people and even questioned God’s will and ways.

Yet Paul persevered. How? He kept his focus on following Christ and trusting in the Lord. I know many people are angry this morning and want retribution on whoever set off the bombs in Boston. We want a quick fix to the problem of evil and human pain. We are afraid of what the future may bring and need a a strong dose of hope to keep up this fight for the faith and to complete our life mission.

That’s why I say look to Paul’s example. He trusted in God’s love and guidance. He knew the best was still to come in the Kingdom of God. He counted on the truth that in our world of evil and pain, God was still active, present and in charge. We can join our voices together in the Lord’s Prayer:¬†“Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

To all those who plan to run the London Marathon on Sunday, I say, run the race! To all who want to continue the race of faith today, I say, run with Christ who is at your side. To all who are tempted to give up or stay home in fear, I say, do not give into the voices of resignation and despair.

Fight the good fight. Complete the race. Keep the faith. A crown awaits you more glorious than anything this world can offer. You can count on it!

 

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She watched it burn completely!!

April 9, 2013

Last Sunday I preached on understanding forgiveness. This is the beginning of a three week series on forgiveness, a topic many people talk about yet few understand and live into it. I challenged the congregation to think of one major regret they hold onto, something they still do not feel completely forgiven for. We tend to believe in God’s forgiveness but we do not fully accept that God forgives us completely and remembers it no more. We think it’s still there, tarnishing our soul and we will have to deal with it sometime, maybe even in Heaven.

I asked  everyone to write down that one sin we needed to be completely forgiven for. Then as they left the sanctuary to drop the paper in a fire pit we set up outside the building. I watched as hundreds of people dropped their piece of paper into the fire. People did this and walked on toward their cars. One lady caught my attention. She was emotional as she left the building and walked toward the fire pit. She dropped her piece of paper and then stood there intently watching it burn. She definitely needed the assurance that this time it was gone, grace was complete for her and she could move on.

This is my prayer for all of us, that we will let God’s grace thrive deep in us. Accept God’s full and unconditional forgiveness and love for you. Do not bring up again that past sin. Stop punishing yourself with its painful memory. Live a new life in Christ!

One poet says we need to take a walk in the garden of forgiveness. Pick a flower for every thing we surrender to God and for everything God has forgiven us for. Then hold up the bouquet and enjoy the beauty of the person God has adorned us now to be. I hope springtime brings you many such bouquets. You are precious in the eyes of your Creator God, the Heavenly Father who loves you and has given you life!