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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How do you measure success?

Yesterday I watched the events that took place in Washington D.C. as the country paused
for a short while looking back on the life, legacy and love of Rev. Dr. King. Fifty years since the March on Washington dignitary after dignitary and speaker after speaker commented on where we have come from as a country in the last Fifty years. Many commented on our success while others challenged our short comings and pointed out our failures. While I was watching I began to ask myself how is success truly measured, and how is success determined?

Almost immediately the term  Koinonia came to mind. Koinonia. is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.”
At the root of the word is love and being in loving relationships with one another. I believe just as Christ did, just as the disciples did also that we measure our life, faith, and success by how much we love and grow in that love. God is love! Here these challenging words from 1st John 4:16-21.(NIV)
 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Therefore in closing I leave verse 20 for us to reflect on "
20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." In the Musical RENT there is a song that ask how do you measure a year. The song Seasons of Love ask like this:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee,
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love
Seasons of love. Seasons of love?
 The song says that your measure a year in love!  How do you measure success, faith, a fulfilling life? In love. As the country paused yesterday to evaluate our success over the past Fifty years, I would challenge us and say we can on consider ourselves successful if our LOVE for one another has increased. Has our love for our neighbor, our co-worker, our youth and elders increased? As a nation have we grown in love, as a world have we grown in love? Have we grown in love or have we been lying to ourselves? Perhaps this is a more personal question, but each persons answer effects the entire community, indeed the entire world. Success= Love! I believe Dr. King would also agree with me for indeed his DREAM was rooted in Koinonia- love for one another.

May the peace of God be with you, and the love of Christ be in, while the gifts of the Holy Spirit guide you all this weekend. Be Well. 

Love Pastor Sirchester.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Don't You Love Jesus!

I love Jesus! Today I woke up thankful to God that the weather this week in Chicago has been great all week. There is something about climate and the change of temperature that can effect a persons personality and attitude. Is it just me, or have you ever noticed that most people seem more friendly on a warm sunny day? Of course you will always have some people that despite everything and everyone around them, to them God created the entire world to be subject to that individual in their eyes. 

That being said, another reason that I love Jesus was because of his parables. In today's text from Luke's Gospel, Jesus tells a parable that reminds us to stay humble and meek. Jesus has a way of reminding us that it's God who gives us the gifts, talents and prestige that we encounter over our lives. Only by God's grace can we even function so we must be careful of how high and lofty we get. In other words Jesus tells us don't get big headed. Let's look:

Luke 14

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at a Pharisee’s House

14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child[a] or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” And they had nothing to say.
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Don't you love Jesus? It's always going to be people in our lives who have big heads/ big egos and will take credit for your gifts and your work. However our job is not to get upset, or take revenge. Our job is to keep giving God the honor as we continue to work humbly until God invites us to the place at the table God has reserved for us. You can only fake the funk for so long, but when you work honestly and diligently on behalf of God your seat at the table is going to be off the chain, leaving on-lookers in awe!

Christ direct our hearts today and always to approach every facet of our lives with humble intentions  being careful not to boast, brag, or make allegiances with others for our own benefits or prestige as we are working on behalf of you. This we pray in your name O God. Amen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me.

Songwriter, Curtis Burrell pinned the lyrics to "I Can't Give Up Now" that Gospel artist Mary Mary
have had great success singing,  and this morning the song is heavy on my heart and mind. Read these lyrics:

There will be mountains that I will have to climb
And there will be battles that I will have to fight
But victory or defeat, it's up to me to decide
But how can I expect to win If I never try.

I just can't give up now
I've come too far from where I started
Nobody told me the road would be easy
And I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me.

The above lyrics remind me of Apostle Paul's words to the young Church of Philippi, in Philippians 1:1-6.

Philippians 1

New International Version (NIV)
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul and Timothy knew that the work of the Church would be extremely hard, at times painful and even unbearable. However through constant prayer for one another and steadfast faith in the promises of God the Church would be victorious. 

In our daily life there will be all sorts of trials and circumstances. Therefore I encourage you to pray for one another and continue to walk in the faith of God's promise "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." No one said that the road would be easy, but don't believe that he brought you this far to leave you!

Loving God, today we pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in your Church, increase our faith and our resolve.  Amen.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Christian Compassion

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 (NRSV)

13:1 Let mutual love continue.
13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.

13:4 Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.

13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you."

13:6 So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"

13:7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

13:15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

In today's text the writer of the book of Hebrews is simply reminding us as people of faith to be loving, caring and compassionate. Look over these few verses and test yourself on how you truly treat others in your daily life and encounters.

Enjoy your day and be well.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Serving a God who keeps on giving

Today, I woke up grateful that I serve a God who is limitless, and gives continuously. There is a movie called Limitless staring Bradley Cooper and in this movie he partakes of a brand new drug that boast your brain power to limitless capabilities but with major side effects. The great thing about God is God keeps giving eternally and there are no side effects except a Heavenly Home.

God did not spare his own Son. He gave him up for us all. Then won’t he also freely give us everything else? Romans 8:32 NIRV

Dear God remind us daily of how great and awesome you are when we drive, look at the trees and even breath. Truly you are a great God that is always blessing, forgiving and saving. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for Jesus. Amen.

Be Well love, Pastor Sirchester.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Daily Routine

Each and every day there are some things that I do as part of my daily routine; for example I eat, wash up and get dressed. (not always in that order). I assume that you also have a daily routine. As people who believe in God we must include God in our daily routine through prayer, the reading of scripture and righteous living. Today look over your daily routine and see where you could communicate with God more personally and corporately.

During the day the Lord sends his love to me. During the night I sing about him. I say a prayer to the God who gives me life. Psalm 42:8 NIRV

God help us to be righteous and in good relationship with you. Amen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's written on your letter?

 As a pastor I receive many request for reference letters ranging from work
purposes to school and social organization purposes. I am always humbled and honored when someone makes a request like this because that means they trust you enough to comment on their life, skills, and gifts.  In Apostle Paul's 2nd (recorded) letter to the Church of Corinth, he is asking them to examine themselves and to let there lives be there reference letter about being a Christian follower of Jesus. What is written on your life letter? If your life letter was read aloud would you be proud, or would you cover your ears?


2 Corinthians 3:1-6

New International Reader's Version (NIRV)

1 Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Some people need letters that speak well of them. Do we need those kinds of letters, either to you or from you?
You yourselves are our letter. You are written on our hearts. Everyone knows you and reads you. You make it clear that you are a letter from Christ. You are the result of our work for God. You are a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. You are a letter written not on tablets made out of stone but on human hearts.
Through Christ, we can be sure of this because of our faith in God’s power. In ourselves we are not able to claim anything for ourselves. The power to do what we do comes from God. He has given us the power to serve under a new covenant. The covenant is not based on the written Law of Moses. It comes from the Holy Spirit. The written Law kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Awesome God through your Spirit encourage each one of us to live lives molded after Jesus, let our lives be letters of transformation that give you all glory and praise. This is our prayer. Amen.

Be Well Yall. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

We have a commission!

Joshua 1

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

God’s Commission to Joshua

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Where is your follow thru?

When I was in elementary school, I tried out for the basketball team and vividly I remember my success during the tryouts. I ran the laps, made the lay-
ups and completed the suicide drills. Everything was going great until the time came to shoot free throws. I missed free throw after free throw until the coach came over and asked me WHERE IS YOUR FOLLOW THRU? Any basketball player will remind you that the success of your shot depends on the follow thru of your release. My coach reminded me that after I shoot to position my arm so that I follow thru and finish my shot.  Of course with that new knowledge I mad my free throws and then I made the team. In today's text from 1st Chronicles (NRSV) David is reminding Solomon to follow thru, to act and not just plan or meet but to get the work done of building God's Temple. 

1st Chronicles 28:20

 David said further to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.

Awesome God, give us the courage to ACT and follow thru! In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Be Well, Pastor Sirchester

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Offering

Luke 21

New International Version (NIV)

The Widow’s Offering

21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

If you are anything like me you have been to services or Churches where certain monetary donations are  required, ask for and perhaps even demanded of. At times amounts are requested for that you might not have especially if you have already given your tithe or another sacrificial gift. (Just to be clear a tithe is one tenth of all that you have earned given back to the kingdom of God.) Anything above a tithe is considered an offering or some form of sacrificial gift. 

In our text for today Jesus reminds us that it's not about the amount of money or gifts that you offer to God but about the sacrifice. I believe that some in the temple that day were asking for everyone to put in a certain amount. Some probably had it to spare and placed it in while others might have struggled and came up with the amount, but this poor widow only had two copper coins. Christ reminds us that the widow put in all she had for God, others watching might of thought that the coins didn't even matter. The truth is that this widow put in the biggest amount of them all, her offering was giving God all of her. What's your offering to God today, this week, during 2013, and for life? My offering is myself, Romans 12:1 Submit you body as a living sacrifice, holy and except-able to God.

Dear God, today lead us to offer ourselves to you daily and forever. Amen.

Be well, P.J.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two Perspectives

Luke 18:9-14

New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

This text always reminds me of the scripture the first shall be last and the last shall be first, it seems time and time again through out scripture God reminds us to be humble and meek. Why don't we get it? Is it because men and women rule over the earth (so we think)? Well today I have reminded myself yet again that I'm only human and imperfect, know matter who compliments me and tells me how great I am God is greater and I owe everything to God. What's your perspective?

Dear God thank you for giving us gifts and graces, help us to not let them or our accomplishments make us think more highly of ourselves. We are all just souls trying to find the path to you, have mercy on us. Amen.

Peace be with you, love Pastor Sirchester

Monday, August 12, 2013

Recognizing the differnce between Visitors and Family!

LUKE 24: 13-35

On the Road to Emmaus

13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a village called Emmaus. It was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.
15 As they talked about those things, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.17 Jesus asked them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?”
They stood still, and their faces were sad. 18 One of them was named Cleopas. He said to Jesus, “You must be a visitor to Jerusalem. If you lived there, you would know the things that have happened there in the last few days.”19 “What things?” Jesus asked.“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet. He was powerful in what he said and did in the eyes of God and all of the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed Jesus over to be sentenced to death. They nailed him to a cross. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to set Israel free. Also, it is the third day since all this happened.

22 “Some of our women amazed us too. Early this morning they went to the tomb. 23 But they didn’t find his body. So they came and told us what they had seen. They saw angels, who said Jesus was alive. 24 Then some of our friends went to the tomb. They saw it was empty, just as the women had said. They didn’t see Jesus’ body there.” 25Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are! How long it takes you to believe all that the prophets said! 26 Didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things and then receive his glory?”
27 Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures. He began with Moses and all the Prophets. 28 The two men approached the village where they were going. Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they tried hard to keep him from leaving. They said, “Stay with us. It is nearly evening. The day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.30 He joined them at the table. Then he took bread and gave thanks. He broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. But then he disappeared from their sight.32 They said to each other, “He talked with us on the road. He opened the Scriptures to us. Weren’t our hearts burning inside us during that time?”33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them. They were all gathered together. 34 They were saying, “It’s true! The Lord has risen! He has appeared to Simon!”35 Then the two of them told what had happened to them on the way. They told how they had recognized Jesus when he broke the bread.

Greetings family in the body of Christ, indeed it has been awhile and it feels great to share the word/bread of life with you yet again. In today's text from Luke 24, we encounter two followers of Christ on the road to Emmaus (or getting out of dodge is the expression I would use here). As they exit the city of Jerusalem a stranger approaches them and they treat the stranger somewhat harshly. However by the end of the trip the once expected VISITOR turns out to be FAMILY after-all, Jesus himself! Imagine the burst of joy and shame these two followers felt excited that Christ is ALIVE and sorrowful about how they treated him as a visitor.

Have you ever attended a family reunion and commented on someones attire, behavior, or social skills only to find out later that the person you spoke negatively about is your favorite Aunt/Uncles child or your first cousin? Then would you feel bad about those things you said or were thinking? Well then remember always Jesus is God only begotten son, not made or created but begotten. Secondly remember that we are all God's children created in God's image. So from now on don't dismiss people as visitors (i.e. the homeless, the diseased, the poor, the marginalized) but embrace everyone as family until proven different. From now on take the time to recognize between family and visitors because we never know how the trip will end.

Dear God remind us to be slow to judge and quick to love, slow to anger and quick to lend a helping hand. To you we pray. Amen.

Be well, Love Pastor Jackson