Pastor’s Thoughts 8-28-2018

 Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

God is working.  Yesterday.  Today.  Tomorrow.  His kingdom and reign is, even now, breaking into this world, and perhaps even more amazingly, into your and my life.  The disciples of Jesus saw this.  Saw this in ways that many people today refuse to believe (and many of us have struggled with as well at times).

Consider the time Martha stood outside the tomb of her brother, dead four days, and heard these words from Jesus, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Her response seems measured to me.  Safe.  Yeah, I believe it, but it isn’t actually going to make much a difference for me today.  Cause he’s still dead.  And I’m still mourning.  And then Jesus raised the anti:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 

How do you think you would have answered that question that day?  How would you answer it today?  Is His kingdom breaking in?  Is He working in you, around you, and through you?

Is anything possible with God?

Christians of the west are mourning the death of Christendom in western culture (that chunk of history when the church was respected, in control, influential, and the popular and good thing to be a part).  Our institutions might shake, rattle, and fall, but do you believe The Story of God’s faithfulness continues?

St. Andrews will go through major transition this year when two of it’s beloved staff will retire.  Do you believe God will continue to write a story of faith and faithfulness in and through us?

I believe God is working.  I believe God will keep working.  While I certainly don’t have all the answers right now for the changing culture, the challenges of this and other churches, and myriads of other things, I have God’s Holy Spirit calling me and working in me each day to go and get after it one more day.  And as long as I’m this side of the Resurrection, I will.  With the psalmist we will keep declaring, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea…”

And with Martha we’ll keep saying, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is (still) coming into the world.”

Pastors Thought’s

Recalculate!  For the kingdom of God is here.
Recalculating. Recalculating.  Perhaps you’ve heard these words from a soothing yet somewhat bionic voice from your car’s GPS unit or maps app.  Every time you miss a turn as you try to reach your destination, or get turned around, or go too far or not far enough, your helpful little GPS unit speaks the truth to you in love and tells you it is recalculating to direct you to where you need to go.
Mark begins his gospel account of Jesus’ life with this quote from Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.”  What did Jesus mean by “repent” here?  Is it a crushing proclamation of judgment like “bullhorn and poster man” does on street corners?  Or is it a more loving call to stop going in the wrong direction and be redirected on to the right path?
Do you know what I appreciate about a GPS unit?  It never says, “You idiot!  You just missed your turn again!”  It never grows impatient and yells at you as you get yourself more and more lost.  It never questions your intelligence, your value, or your worth when you go in the wrong direction.  It never says you are just too lost and you have to go back to where you first started to even hope that you will get to your destination. It never shuts down after it says,  “Forget it!  I am done talking to you.  You just don’t listen.”  It simply says, “Recalculating,” and gives you the next step to get you to where you need to go.
I think most sin isn’t so much us wanting to be bad or evil, but us wanting to go our own way.  As Proverb 16:25 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”  Adam and Eve weren’t so much tempted to reject God, but to go their own way in becoming like Him.  Our own way often leads us into mess after mess, yet God’s Spirit is constantly coming alongside us and calling us to follow Him.
What’s the first turn?  Toward Jesus.  This is perhaps the hardest as well.  Our world tells us to trust our instincts, our feelings, and whatever makes us happy at the moment.  God calls us to trust in Him no matter what we feel like or desire.  While we often live as if we know the best way, it is God alone who truly knows the way to abundant life.
So Jesus calls us back.  Forges new paths back to the way of life.  God already knows every sin, every evil, every flaw, every weakness, every wrong turn we have taken, are taking, and will take.  Yet He is still willing to forgive us, love us, and bring us back to the path He has for us.  No matter how lost we are, how far we have gotten from our start or our destination, or how turned around we find ourselves, He calls us to recalculate and return to The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
I pray that the next time the Holy Spirit whispers into your heart the need to recalculate (and I have no doubt He does so with all of us on a daily basis), that you will listen to His direction and let Him steer you back to His way for you.  Then may you enjoy the journey that is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
Have a recalculating summer,
Pastor Dan