Monthly Archives: December 2007

And my God will meet all your needs…

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Here we have the promise that God will supply our needs out his abundant riches. Consider the context. Paul has just told them that he knows what it is to be in need, including being hungry. In fact, this passage is triggered when the Philippian church sends Paul an offering that arrives in a time of considerable need.

If we expand the situation a bit, we find that the church at Philippi is concerned about Paul and his condition. They decide to send Paul an offering – however, to send it they have to send money that they, themselves, need for their daily needs. However, they send it anyway and it greatly encourages Paul.

Paul writes to them and says, “I know you sent money you didn’t really have to send, but I believe the Lord has taken note of what you have done and that he will take care of you even as you have taken care of me.”

The promise of this verse is that if I empty out my bank account for a need that the Lord has laid on my heart, I can do so in faith that God will meet the needs of my life.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

I’ve been thinking about this command of Jesus: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).

I have a responsibility, in fact, I am under direct orders from Jesus to “not let” myself be troubled upon hearing bad news. The specific bad news Jesus is talking about is that he was going away. Still, in the face of this bad news, Jesus told the disciples to take control of themselves and stop being troubled and instead to start trusting.

If I willfully ignore this command it could possibly be understood to be sin (disobedience). Even if I don’t go that far, I can surely understood that I will be the one who suffers if I ignore the Lord’s intention for my life. Simply stated, my life will not be of the quality it could be if I lived as Jesus ordered.

I may not like it when God doesn’t answer my prayers the way I directed him too but that doesn’t seem to bother God very much. He looks me in the eye and rather than explaining it to me simply says: “Trust me.”

I’d better do it.

Pastoral thought about the Grinch that stole Christmas

Years ago I read an article (I think it was in Christianity Today) about Grinches that will steal Christmas from us. The original though wasn’t mine so I won’t try to burden the original writer with my take on it.

Four Grinches come to mind:

1. The Time Grinch — this is a busy time of the year for most of us. If we aren’t careful we will hurry here and there and arrive at Christmas exhausted. We combat the time Grinch by carving out some time for reflection and remembering the wonderful Gift of his Son that the Lord gave to us so long ago.

2. The Secular Grinch — much of what we do at Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus. There was no Christmas tree at the stable, no colorful lights, and no jolly white bearded gentleman. I’m not against any of those things, but do believe that if we put those things at center stage our Christmas will not be the spiritual event we want it to be.

3. The Spiritual Grinch — the opposite of the Secular Grinch is the Spiritual Grinch. Some people are so “spiritual” and worried about what everyone else is doing that Christmas is, for them, a very frustrating time of the year. They get upset with Walmart for decorating so early and with everyone else who isn’t observing Christmas the way they think they should. Because of that, Christmas is something they endure rather than celebrate.

4. The Ghost of Christmas Past Grinch — (how’s that for mixing Seus and Dickens into one point!) Every year the entertainment industry floods us with the message that Christmas is the time of the year when magical things happen. Unexpected family members manage to make it home, the gift we hardly hoped for shows up under the tree, and everything is just wonderful. The truth is that Christmas or not, life goes on. People still get sick and loose their jobs. Broken relationships probably remain broken. In fact, Christmas tends to bring about depression in many good people. The defense against this Grinch is to remember, and keep remembering, that Christmas isn’t about “warm fuzzies,” instead it is about God’s love for us. In fact, the finest Christmas verse in the Bible may not be specifically about the birth of Christ at all. It may be that John 3:16 says more about Christmas than any other passage.

A pastor appreciating fine lay people

A major project at our church has been the replacing of old, inadequate concrete sidewalks with brick paving. It is actually a bigger project than just sidewalks, as we have a very nice patio type covering in the front of the church, and the brick paving has been put down underneath that awning, creating some very usable space for outdoor activities: everything from overflow space at church dinners to VBS activities to church BBQ’s. We’re even thinking of having some outdoor Sunday evening services.

Actually, this blog entry isn’t as much about that as it is about the wonderful folks I pastor. We have had a number of people who gave up their Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving and then the following Friday and Saturday again this week to labor on this project. As a pastor, I must say that this is about as encouraging a thing as can be imagined. There’s a lot of grumbling these days about “lack of commitment” by church people. I’m seeing none of it. These good folks financially support the church and go above and beyond the call of duty in doing it. Then, they give up their days off and vacation days to come and work sun up to sun down to make the church building into a nicer place to worship. I am pleased with and humbled by such generosity.

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