Monday, April 28, 2008


The parable of the sower (Matthew 13) – a parable of extravagance and hope. The sower casts the seed liberally – the image of a farmer reaching into a sack to grab a handful of seed, and then, with joyful abandon, casting the seed here and there. Extravagant!

Some of the seed doesn’t make it, or makes it but for a few days only to be scorched in the hot sun, but lots of seed falls on good soil and produces an extravagant harvest. When Jesus says, “a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown,” farmers in the audience would have smiled with delight – no grain returns that kind of harvest, but Jesus is clear: love given away always produced an abundant crop.

Yes, some of the love we give won’t make it, but Jesus says: “Be extravagant! Cast your love far and wide, and know that much of the love you give will take root and produce an extravagant harvest.”

Look not at the seed that doesn’t make it. Look rather at all the seed that does!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Daily Thoughts - Jesus

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing?

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


How good it is to sing praises to our God.
How pleasant and Fitting
To praise Him.

Psalm 147:1

Today, take some time – not much – to praise God.

If you’re not sure how to do this, here’s a phrase to use: God of Grace and God of Glory.

When you find your mind stuck in a rut of worry and fretting, stop and say this several times.

Write it out and put it on your desk … God of Grace and God of Glory.

Say it aloud of if you can, or at least quietly to yourself if you’re worried that your co-workers might think you’re a little unbalanced.

But say it with breath, slowly … and think about these powerful words: God, grace, glory!

And here’s a prayer to end the praise time: LORD Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, I give myself to you in faith and obedience.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Church-History Thoughts

As the Pope bid farewell to the United States, he reminded Roman Catholics that obedience to the authority of the church is the foundation of their religious faith.

That’s true in all respects for the Roman Catholic; their faith is determined by the official positions of the church as defined by the Pope and the Magisterium.

But Protestants see it differently.

When Luther and Calvin engaged in reforming the church, this very “authority” is what they sought to shift – from church to Christ; from the teaching of the Magisterium to the text of Scripture, from an institution to a personal God.

At the heart of the Reformation, a new authority located in the heart of every believer through the fellowship of faith and the work of the Holy Spirit.

At the heart of this new authority, the Bible!

Luther was instrumental in reforming education so that children could learn to read, because reading the Bible in their own tongue was essential to his efforts.

Calvin wrote commentaries and instruction manuals to help believers learn the faith and make it theirs.

The Roman Catholic Church said to Luther, “It’ll never work. You’ll end up in chaos.” In some respects, they were right. The Protestant experiment is still an experiment, and the Protestant world is chaotic even on a good day.

As a pastor for 38 years, I’ve devoted myself to the Protestant experiment – teaching the Bible and helping every believer make personal decisions about the faith, finding the “authority” within their own soul, founded upon and fed by the Bible.

God bless the Pope and our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. They have a lot on their plate right now, and so do we.

There are differences, and those differences are instructive, yet we’re all in this together.

Just a few church-history thoughts today.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Close to God's Heart

"You are close to my heart."

God says so to you and me (Psalm 148:14).

Jesus reminds us that His Father's eye is on the sparrow and even the hairs of our head are numbered.

Today, the fiery arrows of the Evil One will assail your heart and mind with feelings and thoughts designed to drive you into a lonely corner. You may well say and do things of which you're none too pleased, and the Evil One will throw it back in your face, "See, that's the way you really are. You're not so hot. You're not what you think you are. Give it up. You're hopeless."

Not so!

We ARE good and loving, we ARE kind and compassionate, we ARE thoughtful and generous. We ARE followers of Jesus and servants of the Most High God! THIS is who we are!

There will be exceptions, of course, and they are all covered in the love of Jesus, and His grace makes up the difference.

You are close to the heart of God! That's where you live, and that's who you really are! Jesus my Lord!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Pope Day

The Pope has arrived!

For millions of American Catholics, it's a great day, and I rejoice with them.

Sure, there are plenty of issues, and lots of Catholics are deeply concerned: women as priests, married priests; sexual abuse and the millions paid out in settlement; birth control and dozens of smaller questions and issues revolving around liturgy, doctrine, other religions and other Christian traditions.

Though I have many serious questions for Pope Benedict and the direction in which he's moving the church, I have been to his birthplace in Bavaria, toured the home in which he was born, and walked by a bakery featuring Pope Bread and Pope Beer.

Yet here's a man who can single-handedly influence nearly a billion people around the world and many billions more by moral and intellectual persuasion.

Pray that he'll be able to guide his church to peace and justice, to build bridges everywhere, and help his church recreate itself, even as it moves away from its Medieval images of power and control.

We're all in this together, and it's a good thing to pray, and pray fervently, for one another.

Hats off to our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters ... God's peace to them and the blessings of Christ.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A New Song

“Sing to the LORD a new song.”

From Psalm 149, I’ve read it dozens of times, but this morning something anchored me in the adjective “new” – sing a NEW song to the LORD.

A NEW song … how can I do that today?

I don’t have to invent a new song; there’s a song in the air …
Written and sung by millions of people,
The books they write, the films they make – and
The birds and the flowers, the sunshine and the wind.
Watch a young boy skillfully skid his skateboard around the corner …
Watch a young family playing with their children on the beach …
Scan the faces of a crowd at a busy bus stop; say a little prayer for everyone of them …
Listen to a different radio station on your way to work …
Watch someone you love when they don’t know you’re looking …
Stand by your child’s bed when they’re asleep …
Tomorrow in church, look around and in your heart, wish everyone good cheer;
Listen to the music – someone wrote it, someone's playing it.
With your hands, touch the pew, feel the wood, it's strength; sense the shape of it; someone fashioned it.
Everything’s a wonder.

Sing a new song to the LORD!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Putting the Day Together

Putting the day together …

Every morning a new puzzle …
Pieces given by circumstance,
Pieces chosen with care …
Beautiful pieces,
Dark pieces …
Pieces we’re delighted to add,
Pieces we wish weren’t there.
Pieces of tears …
Pieces of laughter …
Pieces that make no sense,
Pieces that shine like the sun.

In every piece, a Jesus-promise: “I am with you always.”

So we pick up the first piece this morning ... then another ... some will fit readily, others will be laid aside for another day ... but at the end of day, progress ... puzzle pieces fitted together, and when the light is turned off tonight and we snuggle into bed, we've done our work in partnership with God!

Jesus my LORD!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Today is the Day

"Today is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Enjoy the day as it unfolds; count your blessings. Name them one-by-one!

Pay attention to the details:
the hands of someone you love,
the flight of a dove across the sky,
the um-um-good taste of a hamburger
and the mustard on your chin ...
a well-told joke that makes ya' laugh
throughout the day ...
the exuberance of a child,
the faithfulness of a friend,
the delight of creativity,
your intelligence and wit,
the sunshine on your face,
the Bible, your church,
and Jesus your Lord.

Today is the day ….