An Advent Request – Good News for December 14

14 12 2010

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?”

They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

The Daily Path: On this day in Advent I’d like to ask each of you to pray for a member of our spiritual fellowship. He and his family are in a great deal of pain following the tragic death of his sister. Tracy has left this world. Her pain on earth has ended. Let us ask God to wrap her in his promise of infinite love and forgiveness. And we ask for His grace to flow through our brother Geoff in these trying days so that he may be a pillar of strength for the family.

If there is someone in your own life who is in pain… go to them. Be the light.

Potholes – Good News for November 27

27 11 2010

Luke 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Daily Path: Note to Management: “I would appreciate  large “Road Under Repair” signs be installed at regular intervals along this journey.”

Maybe it’s just my driving, but I seem to hit a lot of the potholes that frequent this highway. It’s not just the obvious vices that line the road, equally dangerous is the spiritual lethargy that sometimes trips us. It’s not unlike Thanksgiving dinner. You hit the table running, filled with enthusiasm and joy. Then 20 minutes after you stuff yourself, you’ve had enough family engagement and fall asleep on Aunt Winnie’s shoulder, deep in a turkey comma.

The spiritual journey has distractions. There are peaks and valleys. Sometimes I feel very close to God. Other times I’m in the back row dosing off. We’re not perfectly enlightened beings. We’re not Porsches speeding along the Autobahn able to reach our destination in a few hours. We’re more like Russian made Volgas, spitting out black exhaust, losing hubcaps and tailpipes with each pothole hit, as we creep ever closer to home on the back alleys of Leningrad.

At the very least I need to aspire to drive out of the potholes, keep my engine chugging along – one filling station at a time. It’s never easy, but I’ll get there.

Citizenship – Good News for November 5

5 11 2010

St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 3:17 – 4:1

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified Body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.

The Daily Path: My friends, I must ask your forgiveness as I ask the same of the Father from whom all good things come. In recent days my mind has been filled with earthly things. As a result I have been neglecting not only my own spiritual priorities, but also my commitment to keep the Good News of Christ readily available to you.

On The Road – Good News for September 16

16 09 2010

Luke 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

The Daily Path: Like Jesus’ band of followers, we are all on the road. Some recognize this, others don’t. I’ve been blessed to have fellowship on my spiritual journey. God has brought people into my life with whom I can share the road home. I truly enjoy their company on a deeper level than with most. I’m genuinely happy when I see them out and about, or have the chance to spend time in their presence. It’s comforting to know we are on the same journey.

This fellowship also provides for one another when the road becomes difficult. The resources we share may be a simple smile, a kind word, or a virtual hug, but the value often exceeds gold and provides sustenance for another day.

A credit card ad campaign asks the question “What’s in your wallet?” as if credit will provide all the resources you need. But I would ask, “Who walks alongside you in the true fellowship?”

Two for Tuesday – Good News for September 14

14 09 2010

Numbers 21:4-9

With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the Lord sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you. Pray the Lord to take the serpents from us.”

So Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses, “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.” Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

John 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

The Daily Path: Do you ever tire of the journey? I get weary from the day to day struggles, but I don’t tire of the spiritual journey. I do grumble about earthly longing and desire for better circumstances. I have pleaded with God to help in difficult times, and asked the question “Why me?” It’s in those moments that I lose sight of the abundance I do have, or as one friend named it “the beauty all around.” One thing I have have come to know, when we hunger on the spiritual journey there is always a banquet at the ready. All you have to do is knock on the door. We are never turned away by God… it’s only when we turn away that we go hungry in the desert.

Gain in the Pain – Good News for August 18

18 08 2010

Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable, “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off.  And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise.

Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’

When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’

When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The Daily Path: In reading Jesus’ parable it’s easy to understand the envy factor held by some of the laborers. Picture if you will… Allison who has spent her entire adult life as a wretched individual only to seek forgiveness at the eleventh hour and find redemption an instant before dying. Meanwhile, Camille has spent a lifetime as a devout follower of the Father’s commandments. Barely a notch on her official heavenly dossier. Sure, Camille might grumble with envy and cry out “It’s not fair!” but… isn’t their another way to look at this?

Yes, the reward is the same for all followers of Christ: an eternity with God. That’s awesome. Everybody on the team gets a championship ring!  What’s equally awesome is the opportunity each of us has to spend THE REST OF OUR LIFE ON EARTH joyfully working towards that end. Regardless of how long THE REST equates to, how cool is it that you’ve come to the realization that great joy can be found now as a follower BEFORE you pass on?

In athletic terms it’s like working out. You spend hours in the gym and on the track, lifting weights and running endlessly. All this “fun” is for one purpose, to meet your goal. To be the best you can be. Sure, there are other people who will be faster, stronger, more skilled, spend less time working at it, and more time in the game than you, but… and this is the BIG BUT, doesn’t all that work and pain endured make you feel good inside? Doesn’t just working toward the goal provide a joy that keeps you coming back day after day for more soreness and another chance to to improve?

Yes, some of us may have only been here in God’s Gym for a relatively short time compared to old Phil over there in his argyll socks, but if I know Phil, he’s loved every minute of sweat and burn regimen. And, Phil is just happy knowing that we’re finally here working out next to him, eye on the prize, even though our time finding joy in the pain pit will be much shorter than his.