Archive for the ‘Love’ category

Spiritual Practice #9: “Care for the Needs of Others”

December 7, 2016

leastThe Old Testament reading for this morning tells the story of how Isaiah came to be called to share God’s message with the people of Israel. I sense there is a lot here about how to share God’s love with people as well.

This final week’s spiritual practice for building up the body of Christ is: “Care for the Needs of Others.” Clearly, this is one of the most obvious and necessary practices for building up the body and being a Christian community. As a pastor, I feel humbled and taught by so many of you who make this spiritual practice a priority in your lives. But as with any spiritual practice or biblical truth, there is always more to learn, isn’t there. I wonder if the Old Testament reading for today, Isaiah 6:1-13, may shed more light.

Isaiah is suddenly transported into a worship service that’s happening in the heavenly temple. There are angels or seraphs with six wings whose voices are shaking the door posts and thresholds, and the temple is filled with smoke.

Isaiah starts to think, “I’m ruined. I don’t belong here.” He becomes self-conscious about having just snapped at his wife (okay, a bit of literary license here), and bemoans the fact that he’s a man of “unclean lips,” and that he lives among a people of unclean lips. (more…)

Kingdom Fruit

March 2, 2015

WellWomanAs we continue to reflect upon how to read the Scriptures, one obvious observation is that the Bible consists of words. Part of the interpretive task is to decide what specific words mean. That’s complicated by the fact that the same word can have different meanings, depending on the context.

Examples in the English language would include words like “ball” and “band.” A ball can be a sphere or it can be a dance. Likewise, a band can be a group of musicians or a strap of some kind, like a watchband.

Some examples from Scripture include the words flesh, world, hate and kingdom of God. The word “flesh” can simply refer to one’s physical body. It can also refer to the whole person, the “natural self” – body, mind and soul. But there are many occasions when it refers to the “sinful self,” or “sinful nature,” like what we mean by “fleshly.”

Similarly, the word “world” can have a neutral meaning; for example, when the Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his Son….” But sometimes it refers to the sinful world, or what we mean by the word “worldly.” (more…)

For Love

April 14, 2014

MaryAnointingJesusBut in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15).

Yesterday I suggested that this verse be our theme for the week, for this holy week. (The Greek word for “set apart” is the same word we translate “holy.”) I also suggested that we devote the next four days to reflecting upon and practicing the four core activities we’ve been exploring as a congregation since the first of the year – worship, discipleship, fellowship and witness.

So today some of us are focusing on worship – worship not just as a religious activity, but as a regal activity. The person who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was eventually nailed to a cross was a king; in fact, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Yesterday I suggested that whenever we pray this week, we first of all acknowledge the lordship of Christ and our allegiance to him.

That’s what we do when we worship; then there is why we do it. In the gospel reading assigned to Holy Monday (John 12:1-11), Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus’ feet with an abundance of expensive perfume. She does it because she loves him, because she is overwhelmed by his love for her. If worship is about allegiance, it is also about love. (more…)

Revealing the Mystery

April 11, 2013

Outstanding RocksIt’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging. I want to keep future blog posts short, mainly so that people can find time to read them, and so that I can find the time to write them.

Today I simply want to remind myself and others about the mystery – the mystery of the kingdom of God. In today’s Old Testament reading King Nebuchadnezzar commends Daniel’s God as well as Daniel himself: “For you were able to reveal this mystery!” Daniel was able to tell Nebuchadnezzar not only the interpretation of the king’s dream, but the dream itself. The dream was about present and future kingdoms, and about a final kingdom that would “bring about the demise of all these kingdoms” and “stand forever.” Several hundred years later Jesus announced the imminent arrival of this final kingdom – the kingdom of God. This was Jesus’s “gospel.” This is the good news that he preached and lived. (more…)

An Even Better Story

December 5, 2012

MotherTeresaYesterday’s gospel reading talked about a man who planted a vineyard and rented it to some farmers. Of course, when you rent from a landlord, you expect to pay, well, rent. But these tenants decided to withhold their rent. Instead, they pummeled the rent-collectors, which would have sounded pretty foolish to those who first heard the story. What were those tenants thinking?  Then again, what was the landowner thinking when he sent his son to collect the rent? Why not just call the cops, or lead a small army of friends and servants to collect the rent and evict the tenants? Why risk the life of your own son?

Some of Jesus’ parables communicate a moral. This one communicates the gospel. Like many of Jesus’ parables, instead of stating the facts, it understates the facts. It leaves the reader to make the comparisons with the real story and to fill in the blanks. (more…)

Getting Back to Our First Love

December 8, 2011

You have forsaken your first love.” This is the Lord’s surprising indictment against the Ephesian church in one of yesterday’s lectionary readings (Revelation 2:1-7) First Jesus lists a number of things the things church is doing well. The church in Ephesus is working hard and with perseverance. It doesn’t put up with wicked people, those who have tried to destroy the body for personal gain. It has also kept its distance from so-called “apostles” who preach a different gospel. It has endured incredible hardships for the sake of Christ and hasn’t complained or grown weary. (more…)

Drum Roll…

April 13, 2011

I’m excited to announce the official launching of our new website. You’ll find it at www.bellevuereformed.org. I want to thank Noel and Tim for their help with the photos, and say a big thank you to Mike P. for his computer expertise and his many hours of work on the website itself. (Couldn’t have done it without you, Mike.) Sharon also helped with the writing and editing. It’s been a great team effort, like so much of what happens at BRC. I hope that you’ll take some time to walk through the whole website, and that you’ll invite others to check it out as well.

This next Sunday we’ll be looking at the last of the “deadly sins” — wrath. This is going to be a challenging topic to preach on, and so I want to encourage you to be thinking about it ahead of time, and even passing on to me any questions or thoughts you have. A lot of us struggle with “anger issues.” Maybe we can be praying that God will use this time to help and heal us. Like with all the deadly sins, there are no quick fixes, but there are some helpful ongoing remedies. (more…)