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

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

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not Doing Church, Being Church

Matthew 22: 19-21

19Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. 20Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ 21They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Today we have another short reflection, which comes from Matthew's Gospel. In this text we see Jesus as the Jewish leaders try to set him up again. Of course Jesus is still smarter than them, and gives them even more truth which makes them even more upset. The truth that Jesus provides is not only relevant in the text but also in our lives as well. Jesus basically says that we are responsible in two ways. We are responsible to man because we have to live and work and pay taxes, but we are also responsible to God for all that God have given us and for our Spiritual growth and gifts. In other words we must be the church, both spiritually and physically. Yes do what you have to as a man or woman but also be a Christian in this world by living Christ like. Give to the people what is the peoples but live for God.

For today focus on if we are just going through live doing church, you know going on Sunday and praying on Tuesday. Or if we are really being the church lived out daily. There is a difference in doing and being, and two different roads go along with each one.

Until Tuesday, Be Well- Pastor J

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Streets are watching and talking. But what are the people saying?

Jay-Z world famous rapper along with the hip hop culture developed the saying that The Streets Is Watching, meaning that others in your neighborhood would silently observe your actions and report back to the police or other powers that be. Hence The Streets are Watching. Well in today's scripture of focus Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica and is very happy about their ministry and all that they are doing in the face of oppression, trials and tribulations. Apostle Paul has heard of the great ministry of the church, not because of their bragging but because of the testimony of others near and far. Others have been watching the church and are commenting on its behavior as well as the effectiveness of it's ministry.

Let's look to the scripture for more clarification.

1Thessalonians 1

1Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:Grace to you and peace. 2 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. 6And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, 7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. 9For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

Here we see that apostle Paul is happy and glad for the church. However the apostle also understands that the church is being severely persecuted in the process. (versus 6) What does this mean for us today as church members and followers of Christ? What does it say about our mission to the poor, the wealthy, the old and young, the single and married, male and female, even the sick and the healthy? It means we are called to be in ministry to all people in all situations at all times under all circumstances regardless of the backlash and persecution we will encounter. If your church is anything like most churches it probably doesn't even deal with these issues of poverty, justice, equality, or sex and sexual immorality. Too often our churches get up from the table of life's issues leaving these dishes there to get old, moldy and funky. The church glosses over them resolving not to provide any solutions. To make matters worse the streets are watching the church, the people are watching the church.

The question then is what are they saying? Are they calling the church and it's members fakes, phonies, and hypocrites? Is what they are saying true? Where is the love and endurance and steadfastness that Paul praised Thessalonica for? How can we regain these types of attitudes and zeal for god's ministry?

The question for reflection today is simply ( What are you leaving on the table, and how is God calling you to minister in those areas?) Remember that the streets are watching us, but it's up to us to determine what they will be saying based on what is seen.

Until tomorrow, be well- Pastor J.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Praise moments...

There are times as Christian believers where we need to take time out to just praise God. Today's blog is short and to the point, being that we need to give God thanks for our blessings, our forgiveness, our leaders, ministers, pastors and laity. Today I encourage you to focus on prayer and praise, just give it up to God for being God.

The scripture for reflection comes from one of the Wisdom books, the book of Psalms.

Psalms 99

1The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! 2The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples. 3Let them praise your great and awesome name.
Holy is he! 4Mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity; you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob. 5Extol the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool.
Holy is he!

6Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
They cried to the Lord, and he answered them. 7He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;
they kept his decrees,
and the statutes that he gave them.

8O Lord our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings. 9Extol the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy.

God is good all the time, so lets include praise in our daily routine all the time.
Don't forget to pray for our political leaders, economic situations and upcoming elections.
Until tomorrow, be well- Pastor J.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Looking for Signs

I believe that it's healthy for a person to challenge and even question their faith from time to time. As we seek answers to tough questions and attempt to discover who God is for us. However as we grow Spiritually and Theologically we must become more attentive to God's interaction among us.In short we must notice and except the sings that God uses all around us to interact daily with us.
Our scripture for focus today comes from Exodus 33: 18-23

Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, you have said to me, “Bring up this people”; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, “I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.” 13Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’ 14He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ 15And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.’

17 The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’ 18Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’ 19And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, “The Lord”; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But’, he said, ‘you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ 21And the Lord continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.’

In the text Moses has talked to God, listened to God, been instructed by and followed the Spirit of God. Despite all of his interaction with the Divine, Moses is still looking for more sings of God's presence, support and favor. For me the fact that Moses is currently in conversation with God and still desires more is hard to grasp at first glance. Then I think about Christians today, who have felt the presence of God, been led by the Spirit and even have testified to miracles in their lives. But each and every day continue to search for more signs looking for more proof of God's presence in their lives.

To make it more personal the text is relevant to me because it reminds that God is active in my life daily walking, talking and leading me by the Spirit. My problem is that at times I'm like Moses and so focused on looking for the signs I want to see or think should be revealed that I miss all of the other signs all around me. I confess that I get to busy, or focused and neglect to pay attention to the signs that surround my life.

If you are anything like me then you will admit also that when we sometimes go through life missing the signs. This week take time out to focus on how God is interacting with you, one another, and our world. Take some time out to listen to the birds, to notice the leaves, and enjoy the Sun. This week ask yourself where do you see signs of God's ever-active presence even in our world today. Until tomorrow, Love Pastor J

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Who's invited?

Matthew 22:1-6
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying:
2‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Week in and week out, Christians and religious folk ask themselves and others the question of who will get to the kingdom of heaven, who's holy enough to be included and who to sinful to go. This parable reminds us all that everyone is invited. The problem is that some choose not to attend, others mistreat the messengers, but those who would least expect to receive an invitation are invited and attend in such a great number to fill the kingdom.

Today's blog is short but deep. Please spend time today focusing on how you live. Are you waiting for the kingdom of God to be handed to you or are you living out the kingdom of God right here and now on earth. Which invited guest are you? The one whom would leave and go back home or to the far? The ones who would kill or capture the messengers? Or are you the guest whom are least expected be invited and then receive an invitation?

Carefully choose where you would classify yourself, and reflect on what that says about how you are living. We will dig deeper tomorrow. Until then Love, Pastor J

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grateful Patience.... or just in looking for another Idol

It seems that Americans are somewhat obsessed with celebrities, superstar athletes and famous persons. This fact is so true that we all seek to become famous and (stunt) flaunt our money or success in front of the world. If you don't agree then how do you explain the multitude of Idol shows. Shows like American Idol which gross profits in the hundreds of millions every season. But that's not the only one there are many other dance, talent, reality, wife swap and survivor shows. We look to idols for security, leadership and as role models.

Therefore my question for this week is are we grateful for what God has already done in our lives, are we grateful for current blessings and the struggles that we have already come through? Are we faithful enough to be patient and wait on God's leadership or are we just looking for the next idol or big thing to lead us and give us any old answers and make us feel better for the moment?

Let's focus on Exodus 32: 1-8 four our scripture of reflection today

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 2Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ 3So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4He took the gold from them, formed it in a mould, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.’ 6They rose early the next day, and offered burnt-offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

7 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

Our society has much in common with the Hebrew people in the text. When Moses had been gone a while the people wanted a new Idol. They had forgot what God had accomplished for them through Mosses. How quickly we too forget how good God has been to us during times of hurt, pain, illness or uncertainty. When things seem dark and dismal we easily dismiss the good in our lives.

Instead of using that time to reflect on the good things God had done for the Hebrew people, like bringing them out of Egypt, providing water from a rock, providing manna from the sky, parting the red sea and more they wanted a new idol. Moses time away could have been spent praising God and giving thanks through worship expressing their gratefulness even though they did not know the next move. In the African American Church tradition many church mothers on any given Sunday morning could be heard shouting "God I know you ain't brought me this far to leave me now". Meaning that no matter what is going on today and what tomorrow holds I know God you are good because you brought me this far, and for that I'm grateful.

Hezekiah Walker a great pastor and musician has a song out called Grateful, the first line of this song says " I am grateful for the things that you have done, yes I'm grateful for the victories that we have won. I could go on and on about your works. Because I'm grateful so grateful to praise you Lord. Flowing from my heart are the issues of my heart... is Gratefulness."

Even though we have trials, and issues in our life as those who believe in God and have faith in Christ, we have to be patient and allow God to lead and work in our lives. In even what seems to be the worst of times I challenge you to take those times to reflect on your gratefulness for God and all that God has done in your life. Have grateful patience flowing from your heart and know that God has not brought you thus far to leave you but is still providing even then.

As Christians and proclaimers of the Good News of Jesus we have to display grateful patience, especially in a world where most are just looking for another idol. We don't worship idols but love God.

Be Well today, Love Pastor J