Incredible Forgiveness…for me and others

Incredible Forgiveness
Is forgiveness truly incredible? Am I living a life that shows I know that God’s forgiveness for me through Jesus is the most incredible thing in the world? Today while preparing for a message, I came across this passage of scripture – Luke 5:17-26.
This is one of those interesting stories in scripture about Jesus. It is a story I have come to love over the years. First you see a man who is paralyzed; he can’t walk. His friends bring him to the home where Jesus is teaching because they want their friend healed. They climb to the top of the house, break open the roof, and lower him down. This is shocking for so many reasons I don’t want to get into, but just know that these guys were nuts about their friend meeting Jesus.

Here is the part of the story I want to focus on. Jesus looks at the man and you expect Him to have pity on him and heal him. I mean, this is what Jesus does. He feels for the sick and lame, and He heals them. It happens over and over again in the Bible. Instead, Jesus does something different. He offers the man forgiveness. It was shocking and maybe even underwhelming to the man’s friends, and possibly to the poor paralytic. Here is the thing I struggled with today as I read this. Do we as Christians, when we hear “forgiveness”, miss how amazing it truly is? You see, I think many times we rush by this part and want to get to the healing. Maybe we want to get to the part where we see God do something amazing in someone’s life.

Here is the thing about this paralytic. You see, as a man paralyzed, he would not be allowed to go to temple. He would never have been able to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and hear of God’s forgiveness of His people. You see, this man was missing the love of God. When Jesus looks this man in the eye and says “you are forgiven”, it may have been the first time he ever heard those words. It may have been the first time he knew God loved him. This truly is incredible forgiveness.

Today in your own life, you may have just skipped over the forgiveness part of this story. You may, like me, want to see God do good in your life and never stop to experience the greatest good we have ever experienced – the goodness of God in sending Jesus to die on a cross and forgive our sins. When we enter worship on Sundays and hear of that forgiveness, do we sit and want something more? Do we want to be healed, or do we want our lives put back together? Maybe instead we need to come and hear those simple words… “You are forgiven!” These are truly incredible words.

Because you are forgiven I would ask one thing. Share that forgiveness with those around you. Maybe it will be the first time they ever experience that forgiveness and it can change their lives forever. You have been forgiven and as you experience that forgiveness, go and forgive others.

 

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Generosity…Speaking with your kids about being a part of sharing Jesus.

IMG_20171020_103132This weekend our congregation is going to be sharing the next steps of an initiative with the goal of campus renovation and expansion, in order to expand mission and ministry. It is called ONE Legacy. I started thinking about this weekend and what I want my kids to know about being generous with our finances for God’s ministry, and that prayer is important in our families life.

I was thinking, “What do I want my kids to learn from this moment?”. Often as a parent it is easy to go through the moment of growth and forget about what it is teaching your kids. I want to think, “How am I teaching my kids through this moment?”. My kids see me put something in the offering plate each week – they see me giving to God. Yet don’t want them to think of generosity as only being a ‘parent thing’, but rather that as a part of the community here at St. John, we are all called to share the gifts God has given us.

 

So here is what we are doing. We are going to have a conversation this weekend at the dinner table. We are going to pray. We are going to think about what are the things in our life we can let go of so that we can help our Church reach many with the Gospel. We may talk about giving up going out to dinner once a month. We may talk about using birthday and Christmas money for ONE Legacy instead, we may pray about giving up cable or Netflix or Slurpee’s!! Honestly I don’t know what it might look like. But seriously I want them to be a part of this moment.

Read John 6:1-13

I love this story because of one very important fact. In this version of the story we find out where the disciples got the five loaves and two fish. It came from a boy. It came from a kid. He had so little to offer and I am sure Jesus looked that boy in the eyes and said with your small gift I am going to change the world. I don’t need your small item to change the world but I am going to use your small sacrifice so that people can know of my love.

Talk with your kids this weekend. Talk with your kids about being generous in this moment. The Lord has given our family so much. It is a great conversation to have and so important as a part of the body of Christ.

 

School is coming…finding rest in the chaos!

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School is coming…For some it is already here…For some parents it is a great day, for some parents their will be tears .  For some kids it is a struggle filled with anxiety and for some kids they just cant wait to be back at school with their friends.  It is a mix of anxiety, joy, fear, and excitement for a new year.

One things we will all experience this year is the busyness that comes with a new school year.  It seems to me that every year, sports gets more intense, classes get harder for kids, the schedule for ministry even seems to get more and more intense.  All these things may be amazing opportunities for learning, exercise, friendships, and fun.  These things can make it almost impossible to have opportunities to share a meal, share your day, or just find times to be home and slowing down together with your family.

Somewhere as a family we all learned that to be the best parents we have to run, run, run.  We have to be in everything, be there for everyone, and give our kids the most experiences possible.  I am here to tell you we are all wrong on this front.  Yes experiences for our kids are great.  It is important to give them times to succeed, and fail, to find joy, and sadness so we can help them navigate those moments before they become adults.  The thing I think we miss is how can we also teach them to rest.  How do we teach them to slow down enjoy life with the people God has put in our lives.

This fall our Church is starting something new. We are calling it Family rest nights.  The second and forth Wednesdays of each month during the school year we have opened the school and Church schedule so that no events happen in the building after 4pm.  We want to model for families to be home and with each other gathered around His word. I love food so for us it will include a meal.  We plan to send out emails with devotional questions, scripture readings, and prayers for the family.  The goal is to help model family times of rest.  My prayers is this will help families slow down and be.  Slow down and be in the presence of each other and Jesus.  I know I need to have those times of rest. Join us in resting in Jesus and growing together as a family.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42 NIV)

What a mess!

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This morning in chapel at St. John I thought it would be fun to take all the palm branches left over from Palm Sunday and strewn them all down the aisles.  It was a huge mess.  I would say it might have been the biggest mess you can make in Church.  In fact I was pretty sure after chapel the janitor would no longer be speaking to me with kind words.  Kids walked in and were shocked by the mess on the floors. It was a glories mess. (By the way as a youth leader making a mess is what I do)

I had them read with me Mark 11:1-11. It is my favorite version of the story of Jesus being called king.  In this text, Jesus rides his donkey into Jerusalem and the people were excited that this might be the next king to rule. They are excited because they thought he would come and kick out the romans and rule the world again.  Jesus walks into the temple and does nothing.  He just walks back out.  I would say all the people who are holding those palm branches just dropped them on the floor.  He wasn’t the king they expected, but He is a king and he would show them how he would clean up their mess they had in their lives.

I proceeded to share with the kids and staff about the mess we all live with. My family can make some big messes.  Please don’t ever plan on just dropping in because if you do you will see a mess.  If you give me some time I can clean up some and make it look like my house is clean.  In fact I say to my wife and kids.  The trick is make it look good but not too good so they don’t know we worked for a couple hours making it look clean. You see I think many of us have a mess in our lives we pretend isn’t really there, or we spend a lot of time making clean ups look like we have it all together.  But here is the thing we are a mess.

This week is Holy week.  It is the week Jesus shares with us that he isn’t here as some great king to conquer the world but here to clean up our mess.  He shows us his love Thursday through being a servant, then he continues that service on Friday to make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to clean up our mess.  He rose again Sunday to keep His promise of new life in Him.

If you haven’t been in worship in awhile I would encourage you to join the Church any Church these next four days.  Come and see all He did for us. It wasn’t necessarily what we expected and certainly is more than just a quick cleaning.  Jesus has come and rose again to bring new life and clean up the mess that is our life.

Thank you Jesus for your love and grace.

(By the way we did clean up the sanctuary today, and the janitor is still speaking to me…)