As the sun sets on this Friday, and our blessed Sabbath appears, I wish you all rest and peace. Remember God has a great plan for you, that in clouds you and him hanging out together remora literally, where there will be no more pain, worry, heartache or tears.
Every year, my church up in Mariposa California puts on a show - on Halloween.
The town loves this tradition and loads of kids and their parents hit the streets all dressed up - with no particular place to go. They follow a route that wanders through stores and homes... and as it turns out - right past our church.
So rather than lament the various parts of this holiday we don’t like (and many in the church will happily tell you how much they do not like Halloween), we put on a show. Usually some walk through experience of some kind.
This year we had three possible Gods. Two of them we were pretty sure were false gods, the other one might be real.
So I, as the MC, interviewed these three characters, asking them the kind of questions many people would want to ask God if he were sitting right in front of us... how do you respond to your hurting creation? Why did you create people if you knew they could sin? All leading up to our final question... why did Jesus have to die?
This year, 400 kids and their parents visited, and on a sugar high sat completely still... guessing which god was the real God.
The gospel was preached to witches, zombies, people in various states of life and death, Cyndarella’s, Dorothy’s, people dressed up as candies, and various other things I couldn't recognize.
On the way out some took Bibles which some showed off to their friends, others were able to share tradgedy in their life, and many told us how well we had portrayed God - which was our intent after all.
We made friends. We shared the gospel. We used our smiles, presence and our words. We felt so connected to God, our community and our calling.
Today we clean up... asking in the middle of moving make shift stages, and concrete bricks and curtains and tables etc... was it really worth it?
Well... we’ll be doing some version of it again next year. So what do you think?
I wrote this one because I am finding it hard to listen to people I love and serve in my church who I think too easily dismiss certain people… I don’t know what the plan for their salvation is - when Gods people are unwilling to reach out to them. OK.. I know their salvation plan is still Jesus, but it is sad to me that God is going to have to find another way to reach them when his people want to ignore them. Whether out of ignorance, apathy, or hate for the things they do.
Said in order to emphasize the things he DID say.
For more of these, click here.
Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’”
This chapter starts, “now in those days, messages from God were very rare, and visions uncommon.”
We too live in a time when the voice of God appears quiet. And many of us find it hard to discern his voice, and when people claim to hear it, we are not sure it is God they are hearing!
But in I Samuel Chapter 3, God shows up, and it is as clear as anything. Even if it took the old priest a little while to figure what was going on.
Eli is a hero here. He works out what is going on, and tells his young prodigy what to do, and then listens when God speaks to him through Samuel now, saying, “Let God do what he thinks best.”
Some of us who have been around for a while often find it hard to listen to youth. All the new energy and naivety is easy to dismiss. But as we’ll see in next weeks version of this (2 Samuel 3), there are times when God starts speaking through the next generation. And us older folk should not be so quick to dismiss them.
This last Sunday my daughter, Claira, blogged her reaction to a vote our church leadership made that is deeply unpopular in some quarters. It was wonderfully written, and started being shared at a rapid rate. One of denominations main blogs picked it up… and has only served to catapult this wonderful daughter of mine onto a larger stage this week. I’m proud of her, and hope to recognize my responsibilities as the older generation, and find ways to not be threatened by the newness, or become defensive when we are called out on how we lead when we were full of energy and naivety… God has used every generation, and we limit God when we insist on having it our way until we are in the grave.
Samuel needed Eli. God worked through Eli here. May I be as willing to play Eli’s role, as I said I was to play Samuels.
For previous chapters in this series, click here.
I cringe every time a Christian tells me that “some Christians think that God is only about love”. I think I know what they are trying to say… but this whole thing is about love.
More favorite verses here.
Each year, my Mariposa Church produces a Biblical walk through experience for the hundreds of people who walk by our church on Halloween night… we call it Hallowed House.
Here is this years script, called: “Will the Real God Please Stand Up.”
The idea is, that we want those who’ve heard so much about God through various means, will easily realize that not everything they here about God is actually who God is.
You can see the script here.
Jesus wasn’t left, he wasn’t right - he was radical. He turned everything upside down, and does the hard part (impossible part) for us.
This series has come about as a response to Bethke's book: Jesus > Religion which has been a wonderful read to me.
Buy the book here.
See more posts in this series here.
What would you say, what would you do… if you didn’t have to be cool.
Or… you know… when you’re not in doubt too. That would be ok with me.
This begins a time in the Bible where the Israelites go from serving God to abandoning God and leaving again, and back again. If you read the Bible all the way through you’ll see this pattern repeat - a lot. Here in Judges 3 we see this happening with a left handed man killing a very fat man. Read it here.
I don’t have to be all things to all people. Just a living embodiment of the words of Jesus. And not necessarily all the thou shalts, and the thou shalt nots. Just maybe, even in the mistakes, living with a faith that what Jesus says is real and true.
For 1 through 5, click here.
The great advantage of hitching your wagon to someone who knows everything is that there are no “oops” moments.
Said in order to emphasize the things he did say.
For more things Jesus DIDN’T say, click here.
The Children Of Israel are finally ready to stop their wondering, and enter the Promised Land. It’s been a long time, but the end is in sight - even if it is over a very swollen river Jordan.
Not to worry, Gods people are instructed to follow God - and here in this wonderful chapter, we see the God is closest right at the hardest part of the journey.
See the Joshua Chapter 3 commentary here.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness - I John 1.9
Some call it Cheap Grace. Today I call it scripture, and claim it’s promise.
For more Favorite Verses - Click Here.
This week the Israelites kill a LOT of people, take the plunder and get ready to enter the Promised Land. But Moses does not get to go. Instead he needs to get Joshua to do it.
In all of this though, I find reason to hope. Whether we are the Israelites, or Moses, or I’m me.
Read the Deuteronomy 3 commentary here as we walk through the Bible one chapter three at a time.