On Christmas Eve, we talked about a child who was born to save us. We talked about his purpose. Tonight, we see that baby, now grown, fulfill it. And I have to warn you - it's not pretty. No longer a cuddly little baby in swaddling clothes, this grown man had been beaten, stripped, mocked, whipped, and could barely physically drag his pulp of a body out to this hill for the climax of this cruelty. It is not pretty. Yet this Friday is Good, precisely because it is Him doing what He came for. In order to save us ...
I was blind for an hour. And that was enough. Granted, I paid for the privilege when that exhibit "Dialogue in the Dark" was in Atlantic Station. It gave you the chance to experience life blind for a short time. I'll just say it was an eye-opening experience. I don't know how truly blind people do it.
Last week, we started looking at Genesis 3, that story of the first sin, to try to understand why we do some of the things we do. We compared it to the victims in a horror movie opening the door that we know so much danger is behind. Like helpless moviegoers, we watched Adam and Eve walk through that door. We saw how dangerous Satan's lies are to lead us to sin.
I just can't watch horror movies. I get too frustrated. You see, it bugs me that they always go through that door.
Last Wednesday, at about midnight, one guy shoved something up my dad's nose, another person shoved something down his throat, and then the kicker – this guy took a knife and cut my dad's midsection wide open. And we thanked him for it.
Dear readers: For the last 10 years, I have been the guy on call to be there for people when they're going through tragedy. I've tried to comfort them with God's Word as they mourn the loss of a loved one, face uncertain surgeries, and deal with pain in so many different ways.
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Last month, my congregation (Abiding Grace) celebrated our 10th anniversary. And there is plenty to celebrate. In 10 years, we've grown in people, in facilities, in opportunities to serve our community and spread the word around the world - in so many different ways. Things are rocking at Abiding Grace. So, looking at that, we must be doing something right, right?
I'll admit it. I am a big college basketball fan, which means I'm loving life right here in the middle of March Madness.
Today is Good Friday. The name seems like a misnomer when you consider that it marks the day of an execution - three in fact.
I look at the calendar and realize tomorrow is already Easter4Kids. Let me explain. That's an event Abiding Grace has been putting on for years now, a free event for all the 3 to 10 year olds in our community. It's a day to celebrate the real meaning of Easter. (You still have time to register your children at e4k.abidinggrace.com, but I digress). But here's the thing. It always takes place the day before Holy Week starts.
It's one of those stories I've heard in so many different variations that I wonder about the real facts: A farmer comes upon the scene of a recent fire and finds a hen with wings spread, burnt to a crisp. He wonders why the hen didn't fly away and escape the fire until he gets a little closer and sees the little chicks are still alive and moving under the wings of their charred mother. They had been insulated from the fire by their mother's sacrifice.
"Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"
"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me."
Have you ever thought about how silly worship seems? And I could go through so many of the goofy seeming things that we do in the ritual of worship, but I just want to cut to the chase. Think about how crazy it seems that we give offerings. We go out of our way to get to church and then just give up significant proportions of our income...for free. Why? Why on earth would we go to church and take our time and give our money?
When you think of college spring break, is volunteering for church work the first thing on your mind? For Ruth Wendland, Alison Wine, Lauren Maertz and Annette Scharf, apparently, it is. Skipping the more traditional spring break locations, these four college students from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., are making their way to Covington looking to be put to work. Their goal: sharing the good news about Jesus. They were sponsored by a group called Kingdom Workers and by Abiding Grace Lutheran Church.
Yesterday was Valentine's Day. Did you remember? Did you do something big?
Today is a big day. It might not seem like anything special, but let me let you in on a secret. Today, God is working. Our text is the story of one of Jesus' first sermons, in his hometown of Nazareth. Imagine the scene Luke 4 paints: The people were excited having heard rumors that he had made a pretty big splash on the rabbi scene in Jerusalem, and now he was back home to teach. He is given the honor of reading the Scripture in synagogue. He takes the seat of the teacher and opens his mouth.
They say knowledge is power. That's true, isn't it? Knowledge is a powerful thing. It can prevent all sorts of problems and can provide all sorts of solutions, saving time, money...even your life. For instance, when you know not to use water on a grease fire, you avert disaster.
When I look around me at church, I'm often struck by one thing about the people I see. They are different. I know that might not sound like that much of a compliment - but I see it as an amazing gift from God. Truly. The faces in our congregation range from young to old, the voices from weak to strong, the billfolds from thick to thin, the vigor from faint to healthy, the skin tone from black to white and everything in between. We are different.
Well, we're three weeks in to 2013. Have you kept your resolutions so far? Or are you realizing again this year that the New Year's resolutions were tougher than they sounded on Jan. 1?
"When were you saved?" Have you ever been asked that question? When were you saved? Maybe it's just because of my line of work, but I get that question all the time.