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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

From Impossible to Imagining the Possibliities

Moving from impossible to imagining the possibilities. Some times in life we get so overwhelmed about our own situations locked in deep despair and sorrow it seems that our problems are the size of a Camel and our resources are the size of a needle. We even began to view our current situations as permanent life sentences to which we are held captive wishing that we could be liberated (from all negative issues holding us back) going freely to give testimony and sow the seed of love to all who will embrace it . We know how much God loves us and want's to be apart of our daily lives. When we get down, when we start  feeling left out, when we give up hope preparing for the worst. During these uncertain troublesome times we must look to God and lean on one another dismissing all things deemed impossible knowing that our God makes all things possible.

Let's look at the text today taken from Mark 10:17-31.

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is  to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” 

Beloved, as Christians and persons of faith we have the  responsibility of educating, feeding, clothing all we encounter along the road of our lives.  We must cease to bicker about trivial things that we can not change asking God for inspiration  and guidance that will help us to change the world around us in dramatic fashion for Christ.  As Jesus reminds us in today's text no one is good except God alone all the rest of us are sinners saved by God grace, and mercy. Focusing on these things always following God will lead us directly into the kingdom of heaven.  Remember our job is not to  change the past but to embrace the present making sure that our hearts, minds, and physical bodies are willing to follow where ever God leads.We are called to be living testimonies for God here on earth. Once we humble ourselves and allow God to work we will grow in faith and understanding knowing that God will never leave or forsake us!  

Dear God today provide us with  your word as we seek to spread the Good News. Send us out into the world reminding all that the doors once closed, the path's once blocked off have now been opened to your people, proving yet again that you make the impossible, possible. Thank you God for always making a way out of now way, thank you for being our light in the darkness.
 Enjoy your day, be well P.J.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sound Investments

Recently Facebook went public, now it's stock is being traded worldwide. Millions of people have an opportunity to own a piece of the Facebook empire, investors large and small are currently seeking to store up profits based on the social media site that has taken the world by storm over the last fifteen years. As I watched last week all of the excitement about Facebook going public, I could not help but to ask myself the question what will be the next great idea that makes billions of dollars while inspiring millions of people to invest looking for financial gain. I am positive that twenty years ago there were no Twitter and Facebook pages, I am just as sure that in the next twenty years there will be new companies that will change the way we live and communicate, having similar effects on future generations.  Regardless of the next new invention, cure, or technical development that provides an opportunity for "SOUND INVESTMENTS" it all will one day pass.  As we go through life seeking to provide for our families, make ends meet and secure wealth for future generations we must not loose sight of the sound investments that provide the greatest rewards! Today I would like all of us to reflect on our investment portfolio determining for ourselves if we are investing properly and often enough to provide for our eternal security. We should invest without ceasing in Christ the solid rock, everything else is sinking sand and will soon pass away. Let's look: Luke 12:13-21

    13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”
   14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
   16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
   20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
   21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Are you making sound investments in your relationship with God? I pray that you are/ will/ continue to make investments that will provide for your eternal lives. Dear God help us to invest with you and those who love us. Enable us to have both earthly and heavenly storehouses, give us the wisdom to know where to invest and when and why. Remind us always for the gospel of Luke's words in Chapter 12: 13-21, and God even when we invest unwisely please wipe our slate clean and provide us with a fresh beginning. This is our prayer that we invest in you as much and more than we invest in things of the world. Amen!

Why not start your new investment strategy today?
 Have a great day- Love P.J.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seeing the big picture!

While reading various news articles and blogs as is my custom after morning devotion, I came across this article on CNN's website discussing why many groups that join the fight for or against homosexuality use pieces of biblical scripture to support their argument. The article can be found at:  http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/21/my-take-the-bible-condemns-a-lot-but-heres-why-we-focus-on-homosexuality/?hpt=hp_c3

My attempt is not to support or critique the article but to assert the claim that the bible can be misused and twisted, and has often been taken out of context. Many misuse the bible due to ignorance and by not looking at the BIG PICTURE. The bible consist of two Cannons of scripture broken into sections, the Hebrews cannon or (Old) Testament and the Christian Cannon or (New) Testament. Both sections of scripture should be read in context while also understanding content. We do God and one another an injustice when we take the sections of scripture or individual words out of context.  Millions of persons have been mislead, hurt and even harmed because of the blatant misuse of scripture.  Even after I read the article this morning by R. Albert Mohler Jr. some of the comments posted both for and against the article took biblical scripture out of context using harmful words and negative tones under the guise of Christianity or Atheism.  After reading the article and many comments my heart and mind reminded me of the following scripture taken from 2nd Timothy chapter 2. Let's look

Dealing With False Teachers

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” My final point and reflection suggestion for today is this: Until we look at the big picture in all things we will continue to bicker and become more divided choosing to harm one another instead of enter into loving and compassionate relationships. Regardless of the issue and your position we should reflect on how we can bridge the gaps of positive communication for the welfare of our entire society, then only can parties began to agree, but they first must began. Together let's look honestly at both scripture and our faith's as they pertain to our active lives and how we promote God's love in the world. Let's start looking at the big picture. 

I urge you to read the article and it's comments then form your own opinion. Love P.J.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What are your plans for the weekend?

What Are Your Plans For The Weekend?

This Friday morning I awoke with a laundry list of things to accomplish this weekend, errands to run and events to attend. By 10.00a.m., my entire weekend has changed the brisk and easygoing plans I had previously scheduled have given way to family ememrgiencs, traffic closures, and unforeseen special events popping up. Who focusing on how God is speaking to me today my heart and mind was led to the book of James. Let's take a look at our scripture for reflection for the day: James 4:13-17
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.    17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

In turning to James today God has yet again reminded me that I need not to focus so much on schedules and plans but rather prepare daily to be the best Christian and representative of God that I can be. Daily God is encouraging us to focus more on transforming the world by telling all we encounter about Jesus. I know we all have agendas and things to do, however God is calling us to not let our plans be a hindrance on God 's plan. What are your weekend plans? I pray that they involve you promoting the will, peace and love of Christ Jesus.

Love P.J.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"the practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world"

Today Yahoo news and The New York Times released stories about "Chicago Cubs billionaire owner Joe Ricketts who is  alleged to have commissioned the $10 million plan, know as "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good." This plan is being put together by a Conservative Super Pac to make sure President Obama does not get reelected. I only bring this to the forefront because daily we are feed negative, hateful and harmful media from all around us it seems the world is fueled by negativity and hate.  So today I am inspired by to God to promote what puts an end to negativity and hate, love and forgiveness!

Let's look at Luke 17:1-10 (NIV)  Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” 

Today I have decided yet again, not I say again... to stop focusing on the hurt, lies and pain inflected upon me by others and myself in order to start focusing on the unmerited amount of forgiveness that I can sow into the world.  After all "the practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world" Marianne Williamson.  Are you up for a little practice today? I pray that you are and I challenge you to forgive something for something little, and someone else for something HUGE! Don't do it for them do it for yourself and all the rest of us!

Dear God help us to follow the example of Christ and life lives of forgiveness no longer keeping score but putting our positive energy in healing our world through your loving example. We pray for those who have hurt, and harmed us weather they know it or not. Amen. In the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven. Love P.J.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Faith in the Network?

The first thing that popped up on my television screen once I turned it on this morning  was a Sprint commercial followed by a T- Mobile commercial both promoting there awesomely powerful Networks. Recently I signed another two year contract with Sprint and while in the store I over heard many customers some happy and excited about new service and smart phones, while others were disgruntled and ready to change network providers at the drop of the next call or late text message. I began to chuckle because the conversations throughout the phone store strangely resembled after Church fellowship hall conversations.  Time after time before and after Church meetings I have heard devout Christians make the similar complaints toward God about prayer request that have not been answered, services that are too long, and choirs that sing a tad bit off key, to persons sharing personal testimonies about how service spoke directly yo them and the morning message was exactly what they needed.

My amusement lasted only a moment when it turned to sadness because the truth is that many Christians change Churches, Denominations, & Faiths just as often as we change Cell Phone Networks. Just take a minute and reflect on that, that many people change what they believe about God and how they live out their faith in the world as easy as we sign a Verizon 2yr Contract!

This led me to today's topic FAITH in the NETWORK, what is our faith rooted in? Is it rooted in the true word and network of God? The community of Christians around the world, the bible, the sacraments of the Church or based upon our daily experience and satisfaction level with God's service? Truly our faith should be based in our personal experiences of our Lord and Savior, but also we need to have the understanding that God is not our personal customer service agent and life has it's trials along with great successes.

 I have chosen today's Scripture for reflection from Hebrews 10:32-39 (NIV)
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,
“In just a little while,
    he who is coming will come
    and will not delay.”
38 And,
“But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

 True faith in God is trusting that no matter what happens our God is with us and will bring us through the storm as well as the sunny days.  As for me I have complete faith in God's network and I have signed a life long contract that I apply to my daily life. Right now I invite you to do the same, even if you have previously  given your life to God and have not been the best person of faith that you know you can be. Guess what,you are eligible for an upgrade right now. All you have to do is say God here I am, here I stand today I give my life to you all over help me to life always for you. Increase my faith, and let me be encouraged to spend time in prayer, study and conversation with you daily. Won't you join or rejoin the network of faith today!

How about we pray today that no matter what were going through  you and I have the faith to endure, and use that same faith to tell others about the great Grace and mercy that we find daily in God through Jesus Christ. After all we are indeed the representatives of God's network! Love P.J.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Choosing Sides?

Recently I have found myself with some extra time on my hands and along with many people my attention has yet again been captivated by the Media, Social-Political and Religious interest groups as President Obama has taken a more (Liberal ) stance on the institution of marriage as it pertains to all of society particularly the LGBTQ community. It seems that every meadia outlet from Twitter to CNN is focused in and choosing a side either in favor of or against LGBTQ marriage/relationships. What I find even more troubling as always it that the FAITH communities seem to be the first one's picking sides and setting up camp in their chosen area.

This is disappointing not because different faith communities have varying beliefs or stances, and it's actually a good thing to see faith communities/ denominations being proactive and not reactive. However my disappointment lies in the fact  most major Religions ascribe to some doctrine of love and value of man under God (higher being) but somehow cease to illustrate the love we speak of when dealing with issues so close to the hearts of so many. Instead I have found the exact opposite happens and even those who preach love, peace, tolerance, and compassion result to using fear, hate and oppression on those who think and or live differently. When our belief is challenged many faith communities and leaders leave the pastoral care and counseling books in their office wile holding tightly the doctrines, disciplines and dogmas that their faith institution has adopted as foundational.

I hope always and pray daily that those of us who claim to believe in something more than ourselves would live out our faith in loving compassion toward one another when troublesome times occur and difficult issues arise. As for me I am a Christian and when I find myself being bombarded with negative input from all sides my faith leads me to the Gospel text of John 3:1-21.

Let's look:
1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.
2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,t you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.t6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.t7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.t16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.
21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

Many people are familiar with this text because of John 3;16, I felt it best to start with John 3:1 and the story of Nicodemus, because like many of us Nicodemus sought God through Jesus while dealing with difficult issues during uncertain times. I believe that the people of faith must also seek the God  who loves us all so much through Jesus during these difficult and uncertain times. We must also remember that if God loves us enough to suffer for our sake are not we challenged to love each other in the same manner despite  if we agree or disagree. 

Today I invite you to join me choosing God's side, choosing loves side. Won't you join in prayer for our fellow leaders and family in faith, for our brothers and sisters throughout the world, that even disagreement we may join into loving communication and compassionate dialogue. i trust that this prayer will be answered because you and I have the power to enforce it by reminding all we encounter today about God's love for us, in the name of Almighty God our creator we proclaim victory! Amen.

Please pass this blog along to someone else today so that they may be blessed and join in the fight for love. Be Well, Love P.J.