Welcome to the P.J. (Pastor J) Sound Theology Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Freedom's Eve

Revelation 21

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

On this New ears Eve we find ourselves reflecting on a familiar yet peculiar scripture from the 21st chapter of the book of Revelation, the last book in our bible. It's a peculiar scripture for this time of year because Revelation speaks of eschatology and the end of the world as we know it, but we are celebrating life and indeed a new year.

However this scripture is extremely relevant because it speaks of ultimate liberation and freedom in the light of the righteous and chosen by God to receive the new heaven and new earth, indeed to receive all things new.

For African Americans on this FREEDOMS EVE/ New Years eve the idea of liberation and new life that the scripture speaks of should speak directly to our hearts. Especially when we remember the significance of this day for us in American history. As many will journey to various celebrations, parties, get together's and Watch Night services at houses of worship. Remind yourselves that there is a history of Watch Night services in the Methodist tradition, but even more so in the in African American tradition. Watch Night Services in African American communities can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as Freedom's Eve.

On this night all those years ago Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the nation, nervously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed and therefore became law. Then at midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and Lincoln kept his promise, that all slaves in the Confederate States were to become legally free. People remained in churches and other places, awaiting word that Emancipation was declared. The news of freedom came later on that day to all, then came the tears, prayers and shouts as people fell to their knees praising God for deliverance and liberation.

It had seemed as if the words of Revelation were made real for African Americans everywhere, for we had received a new earth and new life, on December 31, 1862. However it was still another three years until each and every slave was freed, but this freedoms eve began it all.

Today in the midst of your celebrations take time out to reflect on what this freedoms eve means to you, your family, and friends. Also think about what new life and beginnings this New Year will bring you. How can you start over, be better, and do better?

Until Next Year- Be Well, Love Pastor J.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A change is gonna come

The song made famous by Sam Cooke has been heard from many radio and stereo speakers, speaking about a change of times. Our newly elected President ran his entire campaign based on the idea of it being time for a CHANGE and not just more of the same. Right now we as a country are in need of a change, indeed we are begging for a change as we face an economic and employment recession that is the harshest since the 1920's depression.

Especially today December 30th we are moving towards change and transition as we move from one year 2008- to a new year 2009, as we move from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany Sunday. Change is coming.

As we look toward our scripture of focus today from Isaiah 60:1-6, we see that the prophet was also talking about change as well.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. 3Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. 5Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

The prophet reminds us to arise and see the light of the future, its promise and possibilities. But we are also challenged to let others see the light in us that comes from Christ. this New Years season let someone see the light in you shining bright because of your relationship to God through Christ Jesus. This New Years season, don't be saddened or bound by the past but look forward to the possibilities of the future.

Until next time, Be Well.
Love Pastor J.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time to stand up

Christmas eve is here, and we are ready for parties, dinners and especially the surprise of opening our gifts to see all of the gifts we received. But as the old saying goes let us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. We know this is a corny saying but it is true. Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus birth was a sign of change, a new thing was happening and something different was going on. From Jesus birth even as a child he changed the world. Through Jesus youth he taught and even led older church leaders in discussions and teachings of the law.

In our text today Paul is writing to Titus one of his son's in ministry telling him that the time for change is now. Despite his time in ministry, age, or experience. It was time for Titus to stand up. Brothers and sisters it is time for us to stand up this Christmas season, as we approach a new year. It's time for us as the church to make an immediate impact on the world after our rebirth like Jesus did from birth. In our text for reflection we see Paul's instruction to Titus on how to make this change happen.

Titus 2

2But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. 2Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

3 Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behaviour, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, 8and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to answer back, 10not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Saviour.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 14He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you.

These words should speak to our hearts and encourage us this season as we go forward in ministry. We are to speak truthfully to all men, women, and youth reminding them to be honest, respectful, and loving. We must speak to both employees and employers telling them to be submissive employees, hard workers and fair employers. Most of all we go reminding all of God's grace and love through Jesus Christ, not allowing anyone one to look down upon us.

This Christmas season remember it's not about gifts or presents but about standing up for what we believe in; standing up for the truth of Christ inviting all to come into a relationship with God. This is our calling and our mission. No matter what the day brings we must declare the good news of Jesus Christ.

To all have a merry Christmas, and a pleasant New Year make this holiday season not only be about gifts but about changing lives.

Be Well, Pastor J.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Signs of the Times...

The Advent season is drawing to a close and Christmas is almost here. Many are full of excitement, anticipation and holiday cheer. While others of us are meeting this season with great fear, grief, and sadness because of monetary problems, loneliness and depression.

Either way you may be feeling these are signs of the times. Our economy, our country indeed our world, is fickle. It seems as if we are on a constant ride of ups and downs. Therefore whatever your demeanor is this season, stay level headed and take comfort in our scripture of reflection today reminding us that there is a time for everything.

Ecclesiastes 3

There Is a Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything.
There's a time for everything that is done on earth.
2 There is a time to be born.
And there's a time to die.
There is a time to plant.
And there's a time to pull up what is planted.
3 There is a time to kill.
And there's a time to heal.
There is a time to tear down.
And there's a time to build up.
4 There is a time to cry.
And there's a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad.
And there's a time to dance.
5 There is a time to scatter stones.
And there's a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug.
And there's a time not to hug.
6 There is a time to search.
And there's a time to stop searching.
There is a time to keep.
And there's a time to throw away.
7 There is a time to tear.
And there's a time to mend.
There is a time to be silent.
And there's a time to speak.
8 There is a time to love.
And there's a time to hate.
There is a time for war.
And there's a time for peace.

Indeed there is a time for everything. This scripture has proven to be extremely relevant for me over the last few weeks as I have face the death of relatives, and low points in my life. Followed by a season of increase with new positions and possibilities. Life is hard and it is full of it's ups and downs but God is always with us. We must live everyday to the fullest understanding that life bears the good and the bad, but God remains the same loving-compassionate-graceful and merciful creator.

This season of your life be mindful that we never know what tomorrow will bring, so live your Christian faith and love one another.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent A Season of Preperation

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

This scripture speaks to us this Advent season. It reminds us that there is a time of preparation before the coming of Christ and that all persons are to make themselves ready to receive Christ once he comes.

The Church, or us who believe in God through Christ are to be the modern day John's preaching to all who will come out to us and hear the good news.
For reflection today ponder these questions.
1) What are the wilderness places in your life? The text says John was in the wilderness.
2) Whom are you crying out to?
3) What message of hope do you have in your heart and what message are you giving to others?
4) Do you have a big head or are you humble like John wanting to be a slave who is unworthy for Jesus?

This Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent, we have much to prepare for, so lets do it reflecting on who God is calling us to be and where God is calling us to go.

Be Well
Pastor J

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


As we approach thanksgiving tomorrow and we make plans to meet with friends and family for dinner or parties, God is speaking to me through today's text from Corinthians. Paul writes to the church at Corinth who are in the midst of bitter arguments and differences. Sound familiar? Anyway the church is almost at the point of breaking up, Paul knows this writing the letter but he opens giving thanks regardless. Let's look to the text.

1Corinthians 1

1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul opens the letter giving thanks in spite of the arguments, bad feelings and misunderstandings going on among the members and the society. Paul is happy and yet thankful for all that God has done, and is doing in the lives of the people of Corinth. "Grace and peace to you from God our father and Christ Jesus our brother". Paul's words and understanding should speak volumes to us this thanksgiving and holiday season.

I don't know what you are going through specifically, but I know that our country is enduring extreme economic turmoil, many are experience layoffs, and unemployment. While our youth are faced with peer pressure, a lack pf leadership and the influence of self-centered and greedy media sources. The church seems distant and exclusive all while millions of people are crying out for relief from STD's, bad marriages, relationship and family problems, health issues, death and poverty. Paul knows that the people of Corinth are suffering from the same issues and are crying out for the same relief, but here he is giving thanks.

Friends, this thanksgiving and indeed the entire holiday season take time out to reflect on Paul's actions here and note that we must praise God always. Through Paul's thanksgiving and praise to God healing, and relief were made available to the people. Through our praise and thanksgiving to God in the midst of all situations, God's peace and understanding are able to penetrate our circumstances providing relief.

Have a happy and loving thanksgiving, regardless of what you are going through know God is at work and for that if nothing else give God some praise...

Be Well.
Pastor J.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Reality vs. Intentions.

As we close out this weeks blog I thought that we would finish up our reflections on discipleship looking at service. Often we find ourselves saying things like God knows my heart and searches me, whenever we feel like we let God down or neglected to do something we revert back to God knowing our heart and therefore our intentions.

As disciples we must not rely on our intentions but on our reality. The reality of discipleship is lived service. We can dream, thing and plan but unless we are actively doing, we are not living out our commission. It's easy to sing a song, read a scripture, write a paragraph, or preach a sermon about what we should be doing and how we should be living. While all of the previously mentioned are important tools of evangelism it's totally different than modeling the life of a disciple or a life of service.

LUKE 22:1-8
Lets look at our two text for reflection today, taken from Acts 6: 1-2 and Luke 22: 8-13
8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ 9They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ 10‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters 11and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ 13So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

ACTS 6:1-2

Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables.

Reflecting on these two text my point for the week is driven home. We must love ourselves, and allow ourselves to be empowered by Christ. In doing all of that we must go forward in service. Service is a ministry that all disciples are called to.

How are you serving? Who are you serving? Are you serving?

Until Tuesday, Be Well
Pastor J

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

They will know we are Christians by our love

There is a popular children's song that says "they will know we are Christians by our love". How true this song is, and it just goes to show how profound children's songs can be in there simplicity. But others really will know that we are Christians by our love, not only by our love will we be known but also by our actions and deeds.

Many Christians believe and ascribe to a solely Pauline doctrine that we are saved by grace through faith and that grace is sufficient. I would argue that Paul would agree with James in saying that while we are saved by grace, and not our own merit; because we have faith and are saved we should respond to God's precious grace through working to build up God's kingdom on earth.

Since this week we are looking at models of healthy discipleship, today I ask the question how do others know that you are a Christian? Do they know because you say that you attend church regularly? Do they know because of the bible on the cocktail table? Do they know by your conversation or speech, the places you go, the things you watch, or how you carry yourself/ How do others know that you are different, that you are a follower of Christ.

Today's text should be read and digested as food for thought. Friends take times out and reflect on how through your actions and works you invite others to Christ. Remember always that being a disciple is a life style, not just something that happens when one first comes to Christ and is "discipled".

James 2:18-26 18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

Friends until next time. Be Well
Pastor J

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The nameless 72

Many of us are familiar with the Disciples, the Gospels and with the Apostles like Paul and Timothy.We focus intently on the stories of Peter, John and Matthew, but rarely do we take time out to discuss the nameless faithful who followed Christ as well.

Truth be told most of us won't have ministries as far reaching as Paul or as famous as Peter, but we are more like the 72 Jesus sent out, we are the nameless faithful. This is who the early church was, it was not about titles, positions, committees or appointments. Rather the early church was about the ministry of witness and testimony. They were the few labourers who were willing to go and work.

Today I encourage you to seek to define yourselves as one of the 72. Look intently at your ministry situation in comparison to the text and seek ways to be encouraged, empowered or re-energized. This week we will focus on discipleship in different ministry ways, which is why we start off today with the ministry of the unknown 72.

Lets look to the text.

Luke 10:1-12

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you." 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11“Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near." 12I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
Until next time, Be Well
Love Pastor J

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Concerned about the Ninevehites

Most Christians and anyone familiar with the bible for that matter has heard the story of Jonah or about Jonah and the whale. If not to make the story short God wanted Jonah to go preaching and witnessing to the people of a town called Nineveh. Nineveh was a town full of wicked people and were bitter enemies of the Israelite's Jonah's people. So Jonah did not want to go, however after much persuasion and trials Jonah goes to the people of Nineveh. Jonah tells them to straighten up and they repent, so God spares them at the end of chapter 3. Our text for today picks up at chapter 4, let's look to our text.

Jonah 4: 1-11

But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ 4And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ 5Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

6 The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’

9 But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ 10Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’

Many people look at the story of Jonah and think about how hard it was for Jonah to have to go to his sworn enemy and help them to see the light. This is a viable and meaning piece to the story when we the people looking at the story relate to Jonah. The funny thing is as Christians we always want to see ourselves as Jonah bearing the burden of having to go spreading the word of God to save someone else. Truthfully more often than not we are the Ninevehites, needing to straighten up and repent. When we look at the story from that angle the entire perception changes. Let's focus on vs 11:

And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’ If God is so concerned about and offered full forgiveness to the people of Nineveh who were wicked and sinful, and the animals as well. Then how much forgiveness, love and compassion does God have for us? Just as much if not more. So thank God that god is concerned about the Ninevehites, because that means even in our wicked, and messed up ways we are still offered forgiveness and acceptance if we ask and repent.

Some would be like Jonah and not even want to give us a chance, but again thank God that God is concerned about all Gods people. Today reflect on times when you felt like Jonah in your life, but also remember those times when you could have easily been the Ninevehites. Once you have thought about it compare to yourself which one you have felt like more the Ninevehites or Jonah.
Then take time out to praise and thank God for both sending us out to spread the good news even if sometimes against our will, and praise God for being concerned about us when we are acting like the people of Nineveh.

Until next time, Be Well.
Pastor J

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You never appreciate what you've until it's gone...

Recently I have had some dental issues that have not only silenced me but have also drastically changed my eating habits. I have been on a strictly liquid, soup and grit (oatmeal sort of) diet for almost a week. While I had time to think, and reflect I began to miss food. I love to eat and today I have had the worst craving for a slice of Williams Inn or Giordano's pizza. There are few things that I would not give to have a hot slice of Chicago style pizza right now. But along with my hunger cravings have come my reflections on this situation. I know that if I could eat pizza now I probably would not even want it, because I can't remember the last time I had some. Honestly I only eat pizza like that once a month if that. So I've come to the conclusion that I'm just missing all the things that I usually have such easy access to, hence today's title you never appreciate what you got till it's gone.

In today's scripture of focus Jesus tells a parable about talents given out, and at the end of the story two of three persons have used and grown their talents. The master was pleased and gave them even more talents. But one person did not use their talent but buried it instead. The master was upset that this person did not use their talent and didn't even invest in their talent. So the master took the talent away from the third person.

I believe in my heart that if this were a true story (this is not a true story-it is a parable told by Jesus) that the person who had their talent taken would have lost nights of sleep missing it. But when they had it it was not worth investing in.

Let's look to the scripture: Matthew 25:14-30 14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The questions for today are simple: 1) How are we using, and growing our talents for God's glory? 2)What things do we take for granted, that if not able to access we would surely miss?

Today or tonight take time out to appreciate all of the little and big things, life, love, family, fiances, food, clothes, work, school, pets, siblings, health, pain, sun and rain. Give God thanks for all of the above, many more and for your specific gifts and talents. Together let's be the best stewards of our talents.

Until next time Be Well.
Love Pastor J.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Desperate times desperate measures!

Most of us are probably tired of hearing how chaotic, evil, bad and messed up our world is. Recently we have been bombarded with news of job layoffs, economic depressions, murder mischief and mayhem. Speaking for my self I'm tired of all of the negative media as well as the way we wallow in our own sorrow and despair. Theses are desperate times in our world, country, personal and spiritual lives. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and as Christian persons we should be preparing ourselves to be proactive as well as reactive during times like these. Let us look to our scripture of focus today for more understanding where I'm coming from.

1Thessalonians 5

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

In this text Paul is writing to the Thessalonian church and is reminding them to beware in these seemingly desperate and dismal times. The Church and Paul believes that the end is near, but no one knows the time for sure. Therefore Paul leaves the church with theses words of encouragement and hope.

The same words are important for us today, in verse:
8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

We must love desperately, hope desperately, prepare for the return of Christ desperately and we can change the world. This is how we are to encourage one another and offer the love of Christ to all.
Be Well, Love Pastor J

Friday, November 7, 2008

Be ready, always.

Matthew 25

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 9But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” 10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” 12But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” 13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Today's scripture of focus is a story told by Jesus encouraging the people of God to be constantly ready for Christ return as well as for ministry. Being prepared for Christ return is only possible when you live every day fully with the love of Christ and passion for following God's will for your life. Since no one knows the day or the hour, this story is not about being prepared for a certain time or sitting and waiting but rather being actively prepared through our lived experience as Christians.

So brothers and sisters, lets get ready, and be ready always inviting others to come into a relationship with God through Christ. Go out and live your faith allowing your life and your bodies to be living sacrifices for almighty God.

I pray this reflection has been helpful. I will speak with you again on Tuesday, until then Be Well. Pastor J.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prepared to Win!

Recently, the NBA (National Basketball Association) season has began, and the NFL (National Football League) season is in mid swing. We are now privileged week in and out to watch some of the worlds best athletes as they participate and play there respective sport. These athletes train constantly, they exercise regularly, they monitor their diets, and weight. They even maintain regular sleep schedules and down time. This type of preparation enables them to preform at their best, so that they won't only be able to compete but to win and be a champion.

Today's scripture of focus come again from Paul as he and we continue to focus on our bodies as instruments to be used and devoted to God.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. 26So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

In the text Paul speaks to the people of Corinth and to us in language that both groups can understand. The Athenaic and Isthmain games would be familiar to the people of Corinth probably taking place no more than ten miles away. While we are very familiar with the Olympics, baseball and other sports. Therefore we understand the point that the Apostle is driving home. We must train our bodies both physically and spiritually being prepared to run this Christian race not just to compete but to win. Paul does not mean win salvation, that can not be won but is already free. Paul means to win souls for God through Christ, for this is pleasing to God. The race is a race in which you live out your call and commission to evangelize and wittiness to all. Not doing this could lead to disqualification.

For us, I ask that we spend the day reflecting on how we are treating, training, and testing our bodies in preparation. What are we eating, how much are we sleeping, what are we putting in and what's coming out? Are we physically fit, are we spiritually fit? If not then what must we do in order to prepare ourselves? I believe we must start with prayer, reading scripture daily, exercise, proper diet, and proper rest. Then we can go forth as living examples of Christ message and love in the world, proclaiming that message to all. Far to often we as Christians leave God, and Jesus message in the church on Sunday morning. We tend to compartmentalize God and only open up the compartments when we need them, when God requires us to live the gospel.

The popular television show In Living Color asked the question every week, HOW YOU LIVIN? I leave you with that same question for reflection today, how are you living?
Until tomorrow, Be Well.
Pastor J

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Celebrate today!

As I sit here with tears in my eyes, filled with great emotion. I reflect on all that has happened, is happening and will happen. I ask myself the question, why am I crying? Well after pondering that question, I believe I am overly emotional for three reasons. 1) An African American is actually the Presidential elect of America. (thank God YES!!!) 2) The blood shed, the struggle , the pain of years and the blemishes of racism on the American flag have been lightened, and the people have spoken. 3) As a pastor and as a Christian I now am forced with holding President Obama accountable and responsible for living up to his promises, fairness, and truth. He now is leader, president, king of a nation, but we, us, you and I are the prophets who are responsible to remind the king that his kingdom in on loan by God. This is a struggle that has been on going since biblical times.

We also must remind ourselves as Christians our bodies are also temples on loan from God and we must treat ourselves and others accordingly. This is what our scripture focuses on today from 1st Corinthians.

1Corinthians 6

12 ‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’,and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ 17But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

I know this might be a little deep for today, but we must remember to honor our bodies because our bodies are Gods first physical gift to us and should be offered in praise.
Now today be excited, celebrate and just be happy. Praising God for all that God has done.

Be Well AMERICA, until tomorrow
Love Pastor J

Remembering your History, Choosing your Future!

Good morning on this November 4th 2008.

I hope that all of you had a good and pleasant weekend, and that you remembered all those who passed away in the last year as Sunday was All Saints Day. Also Friday October 31st was the Churches Reformation day which established the Protestant church. (Thanks Martin Luther for your 95 Thesis)

Well today there is much going on in our world, country, indeed in our society, and even in our scriptures. Today, many persons across America are remembering their history, ancestors and family members dreams and struggles. While many are also faced with choosing their future and the future of this country. The same thing is happening in the Old Testament scripture of Joshua. Joshua is the successor to Moses and in this chapter Joshua is recalling how good God has been to the Hebrew people and reminding them of all that God has brought them through. But Joshua also reminds the people that they can no longer be easily swayed by others religion or idols and must now be committed to God.

Let us look to our scripture of focus for this morning.

Joshua 24:14 ‘Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’

Here Joshua gives the people an ultimatum, either serve the Lord or do not be part of this house. (the house of Israel). I know that it is easy to get really caught up in all of the current politics and media, even in the economic recession and all that the world is going through. So we tend to want to trust someone, and something, simply put we need to place our belief in something. The problem is we seem to be placing all of our belief and trust in our leaders political, communal and those in the entertainment arena.

Therefore my inquiry is not about the capability of these leaders, either elected or approved by common census of the community, but the fact that we must be mindful of where we place our trust. in the text Joshua never says follow him, serve him or Moses. But encourages the people to put their trust, love, and faith in God. The truth is that people are human, and people will always let you down. We can support and encourage our leaders, but remember they are just as imperfect as us. Like us our leaders are only enabled to do great things through the empowerment of God.

So in the midst of today's craziness take tie out to reflect, remember, and reconsider whom you are serving in your house. Think about your history and where you come from as well as where your current choices will lead you, both political and especially spiritual.

Be Well, until tomorrow. Love Pastor J

Friday, October 31, 2008

Can we be saved by the faith of others? pt.2

Now that we have had a day to reflect on Acts 27 and the role that Paul played before and during the shipwreck, I hope that you have come to the following conclusions.

1) Paul was a great man of faith but, the fact is that God was doing something in the midst of the storm, and shipwreck. God plan and will was bigger than Paul. Paul allowed himself and was open to being used by God. Proving that Paul faith and wiliness to be used saved the prisoners and crew.

2) We must remember that the Romans and the other prisoners were not Christian believers or even Jews to our knowledge. But Julius spoke up against the killing of the prisoners and Paul. Proving that sometimes others can be used to save us and many.

3) Finally this text leaves us wrestling with the question of what happened after everyone got to land. Did the Romans and prisoners convert to Christianity because of there near death experience? Did they just assume Paul was lucky in knowing that they would all be saved? These questions are crucial because they challenge us to determine how we will handle and look at the situations in our life.

Have you ever had close calls in your life? When all works out for the better or worse, do you attribute it to God, luck, or coincidence? This is just food for thought, but how we handle our situations speaks volumes to our faith and says much about our life.

On another note the end of October is here and I could not let the month slip by without reminding all of us that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this is a disease that effects millions of women world wide. As Christians and good people we must pray for, and be supportive of all are struggling with Breast Cancer as well as all who have died and been cured of Breast Cancer. This is a serious issue that needs compassion and love for all persons, families, and doctors involved. To all engaged in the fight against Breast Cancer, I pray that you keep up the goo fight. May God continue to bless and keep you.

Therefore I leave you to reflect on Hebrews 11: 1-3 and say KEEP the Faith, God is always at work.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

Until Tuesday, Be Well!
Pastor J

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can we be saved by the faith of others?

Hello everyone, today we are asked a difficult question. Can we be saved by the faith of others?

Our Scripture of focus for today is taken from Acts 27:21-44. Please if you have time read the entire 27th chapter.

ACTS 27: 21
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. 22I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.” 25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26But we will have to run aground on some island.’ When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. 29Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, 31Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.’ 32Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift.

33 Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. 34Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’ 35After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. 36Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. 37(We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) 38After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

39 In the morning they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned to run the ship ashore, if they could. 40So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea. At the same time they loosened the ropes that tied the steering-oars; then hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. 41But striking a reef, they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves. 42The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none might swim away and escape; 43but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44and the rest to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

In the text the Apostle Paul is now on a ship bound for Rome and is greeted by an Angel of the Lord. Paul then quickly tells everyone on board who would listen that they will face hard times and even the ship will be lost but not a person shall die. This would just be considered ramblings except for the fact that fourteen days and nights later everything happened just like Pauls said it would. The fact that Paul was actually right changed everything.

If we look again at verses 25 we come to the heart of our question for today, (
25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.) The question is were theses men saved because of pauls faith in God. Because they were Romans, Greeks and Gentiles they most likely did not have faith in God, but Paul states because of my faith I am sure we will be alright.

Reflect on this text today and ask yourself these questions: 1) Do you think that if Paul was not there the people still would have been saved because of his faith? (This would make the situation bigger than just Paul and more about God's power)

2) How has your life been effected by the faith and prayers of others?

3) How have you effected the lives or situations of others by demonstrating your faith and offering up your prayers?

Don't worry we will look deeper into this text tomorrow, I would not leave you hanging like that.
So until then, Be Well.
Love Pastor J

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Does your Sunday morning experience effect your Monday afternoon existence?

Does your Sunday morning experience effect your Monday afternoon existence?

If the truth be told, many of us "Christians" act a certain way on Sunday morning, and once we enter the church we are super "holy" until we leave. However on Monday morning we are totally different people. We change and even compromise our Christian beliefs because of work, family, money, and even because of societal norms. Christian lawyers leave church on Sunday to defend guilty clients on Thursday. While the head of the financial committee will count the tithe on Sunday and return to work on Wednesday to help a client cheat on their taxes. We cut corners, lie, cheat and steal all week long and return to the house of God on Sunday to do the right thing.

This brings us to the scripture of focus for today, how are we really living? Are we living the Be- Attitudes Jesus instructs in the text? Or are we selfish, self-centered and greedy? Today lets focus on how we can be a blessing to others without compromising our morals, and Christian values any day of the week in any place. If our worship experience does not change us and affect us in our daily living than we need to rethink why or how we are worshiping.

Matthew 5

5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Until Tomorrow, Be Well. Pastor J

How are we seen?

1 John 3
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Good morning all, I pray that your weekend went well and that you are healthy and blessed.
This week we send our prayers out to many families and persons who are sick and dealing with or illness. We just ask God to be a doctor in the sick room as well as a comforter at the grave site.

The scripture above is our focus for the day which has been taken from 1st John 3:1-3. This scripture is simply about being honest about our relationship to God through Jesus. We have received a gift that we did not deserve because of Christ. Now all we must do is live into it, which means that we must do our best to live as Christ lived. We must live like loving, compassionate, self-sacrifice and selfless people who love God.

Is this how other people see us? I wonder if we asked one-hundred people how they see us what would they say? How does God see us? Do we think that God is pleased with us or disappointed at the potential for love and compassion that we waste daily?

For today just think about how you are seen?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where is the Love?

All week we have been discussing the issue of love, and we have looked at it for many different ways. Today I ask the question Where is the Love? After hearing about the story of focus for today, I am shaken with rage and disappointment. It seems as though people have lost their minds over our current political elections. I am saddened at the string of event of late from persons screaming hate slogans at campaign rallies to this story about someone being physically mutilated. Despite your or my political views we must act lovingly to one another.

I keep hearing and replaying the words of Rev. Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. over and over again in my head "
I think we have got to learn to disagree without being violently disagreeable and this whole philosophy of expressing dissent through murder must be vigorously condemned."
Please read the following article and reflect, today we will reflect on the article and remember these verses from Matthew 22:34-40
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
A 20-year-old woman who was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield was also maimed by her attacker, apparently because of her political views, Pittsburgh police said.
According to WTAE's news exchange partners at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Ashley Todd, of College Station, Texas, was using an ATM at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street just before 9 p.m. Wednesday when a man approached her and put a knife to her throat.
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the robber took $60 from Todd, then became angry when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on the victim's car. The attacker then punched and kicked the victim, before using the knife to scratch the letter "B" into her face, Richard said.
The Tribune-Review reported that Todd, who isn't familiar with the area, drove to a friend's house and together the pair located the Citizens Bank ATM at Liberty and Pearl where the attack happened and called police.
Todd declined to comment to the Tribune-Review. Friends said she is in Pittsburgh volunteering for the McCain-Palin campaign.
Richard said the woman refused medical treatment after the assault, which happened outside the view of the bank's surveillance cameras.
The robber is described as a dark-skinned black man, 6 feet 4 inches tall, 200 pounds with a medium build, short black hair and brown eyes. The man was wearing dark colored jeans, a black undershirt and black shoes.
The Obama-Biden campaign released a statement, commenting on the attack. The statement said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice."
The McCain-Palin campaign also released a statement saying, "The McCain campaign is aware of the incident involving one of its volunteers. Out of respect, the campaign won't be commenting. The campaign also confirms that Senator McCain and Governor Palin have both spoken to the woman."

I hope your hearts were spoken to and that you are praying for all who are involved, along with me.
Until Tuesday, Be Well
Love Pastor J.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do you love until it hurts?

While growing up I remember many times being punished for grades or school or whatever, and my parents would always say "its gonna hurt me more than it hurts you", when I heard those words then they were unbelievable. Today, however I reflect on Jesus when we sin and disappoint God. I can hear God saying "its hurting me more than you". Even in today's scripture of focus we see the Apostle Paul using similar language to the church of Thessalonica:

1Thessalonians 2
1You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2but though we had already suffered and been shamefully maltreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. 3For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; 6nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, 7though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. 8So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

9 You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was towards you believers. 11As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, 12urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

In the text Paul tells us of his persecution, but reminds us that despite that we must still be brave and faithful enough to go forward in ministry. Paul speaks of caring for one another even giving of yourself to the point that it hurts sometimes.

Is this an Idea that we can relate to? Have you ever given of yourself or did for someone else to the point that it hurt. Have you even given your last dollar, given your all in a relationship, to a child, or sacrificed on a job. What about helping an enemy or someone that you don't particularly care for. If you've answered yes to any of these I would like to applaud you and congratulate you on serving in ministry. This is what your parents were talking about through those spankings or punishments. That they had to painfully enforce rules and regulations that would benefit you later. This is what Jesus did for us on Calvary, bringing us salvation at Christ expense. In the text Paul reminds us that it is good to give ourselves in service to God and others even though we know that there will be times of persecution when we do. That's loving until it hurts.

Today take time out to reflect on who has loved you until it hurts and please be mindful of how God is calling you to Love others. Remember loving others is our theme for the week.

Until tomorrow, Be Well. Love Pastor J

Do I have to love everyone?

Good morning, and I hope today's blog finds you well. As we continue to focus on loving God and Loving our neighbor as ourselves I would like us to look at a news story dealing with deportation this morning. You can find the story at the following link:


After you have watched the link please review Matthew 22: 34-40

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
Please reflect today on how God would want us to respond or act in situations like this. Reflect on everyone's comments in the video and ask yourself how you truly feel and why? Focus on who we are truly called to love our brother and sister, what are the limits on such love, are there any?
Until tomorrow be well. Pastor J

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is it always about choosing sides?

Over the last few weeks the as the Presidential election draws nearer the negative campaigning increases and more extreme opinions are voiced. From both the left and the right political sides the bible has recently been used for the justification of electing one candidate over the other.

While the conservative right has compared the democratic candidate to the Anti-Christ, equating him being elected to the beginning of Armageddon and the biblical revelation. The liberal political left has compared our current government to that of Pharaohs reign in Egypt. Recalling our attention to the fact that Pharaoh called upon the services of a young adult Joseph to lead the country during seven years of plenty and famine. Joseph changed the country around under his leadership and the political left has compared the democratic candidate to Joseph.

The purpose of today's reflection is not to choose sides or pick favorites but to ask the question as always how is God being glorified in all of this? Our scripture for today's reflection comes from Matthew 22:34-46

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ 43He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, 44“The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand,

It's toward the end of a very long week for Jesus and here come more questions and testing. It seems as though the Jewish leaders are constantly focused on all of the wrong things. The people are constantly getting sidetracked and overwhelmed. Just like in our society it is easy to focus on our daily to do list and get overwhelmed by our political processes. We find ourselves being rude, mean, tired and less productive to society, each other and ourselves.

In the text Jesus reminds us to love God and place God first above all else, as well as love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Imagine if we lived, worked, and even elected our government in this way....
Today, reflect on ways you see yourself placing God first as well as how you show love to your neighbor daily.
Until tomorrow Be Well. Pastor J