Thursday, August 18, 2011

LIVE and SAY THANK YOU

Family and friends; take time to thank God for every breath. I am so thankful that God has led and sustained us all these years I have been married to Kerry Eileen. Putting God first when things get tough, that is one major lesson. Another is remembering that the bond between us is meant for a lifetime. It has become a safe harbor for three great kids. When I am upset or relationships are not as they should be it is time to reconnect with God. Confession to him and to those I have hurt is a must. Thirty seven years are rooted in the love God has shown me and worked deep into my soul. thank you Father, Son and Holy Spirit for hold us all together. I am blessed.
I pray that out of this core of my life God will continue to bless those I serve as their pastor. What a privilege it is to pray for God's people, to preach God's Word, to lead them to Christ and to encourage them to use their gifts in ministry.
Here is my prayer. Your kingdom come in me, in those I love so it overflows to those around us.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Power of the Execution

A Meditation on John 20:1-12

I thought I would share with you what I have been thinking about during this season of Resurrection.

When we describe the cross as an execution we begin to enter into the real world of the early Christ-followers. They could only see and expect something ugly in the wake of the horror of the cross. That Jesus rose from the dead was inconceivable, impossible and far from even the grandest dream of Peter, the other disciple and Mary. They went to see a dead friend, a hoped for Messiah but not a risen Savior. They were more realistic in the death of Jesus than most people around me. They faced death, grieved it and had a healthy respect for wailing. But they did not anticipate an empty tomb. Resurrection was not in their vocabulary. As the authors of John's gospel wrote this very existential reflection he is reflecting on an event that even after all those years still took him to the edge of the world as we know it. What happened was so breathtaking and supernatural that human categories of understanding failed them. That this is true is sobering. Human categories failed them even after so much contemplation. This is the One of whom he writes in him was light and the light is the life of men. Yes! How could I not see something so immense at work here that it redefines my life and all lives around me.

Their humanity shines through as we see that they were numb to the reality of the empty tomb. The scant belief of Peter and the other disciple who went home after seeing the gave clothes and the uncontrollable weeping of Mary who's pain was worsened by the belief that Jesus' body had been stolen. She wept despite the angels! Angles at the head and feet of his grave clothes. She is more a cynic that a gullible woman. When Jesus comes to her she still refuses to see.

But the thing that reminds me of my family is that this gospel focuses on the restoration of relationships. John who said that his sheep know his voice said to the woman, "Mary". Then she said Rabboni - precious tender teacher and fell at his feet to grasp him. But somehow he had to ascend to the Father. We can't rise up to God. Jesus came down to us and he raises us up.

So there it is my family, my friends. This is what has touched me most deeply lately. This is the truth that is remaking me. If there is not mystery then my life is too small. But at the empty tomb there is more mystery than I can take in. Give me the Jesus of the empty tomb. Anything less and I am worse than worthless. I know how desperately I need God but it is the recalibrating of all reality at the cross and empty tomb that sets me on a new road of hope.

I am so thankful that because of Jesus, God does have me in his grip. This makes me thinks of my daughter. In his grip! That is where we are invited to live. And it there that we gain the kind of courage to do the kind of work my son Jeremiah does with people who are struggling to gain their citizenship and all other sort of problem. It is in the grip of God that hope for American lies for my sons Micah and Tom. It is in his grip that Kerry and I serve two little congregations in this almost forgotten part of California. God thank you that because we are in your grip our practicing of resurrection will make a difference.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gone Fishin


I am looking forward to getting outside again and doing some fishing.
But I realize that everyday I have the opportunity to participate in what God has done for us all in Jesus. The initial explosion of life that rocked the world had its impact from Jerusalem to Rome in just a few short years. Today if you are a follower of Jesus then you can participate in an ongoing global revival. Don't dumb down the good news and don't be afraid because of the postmodern pressure to shut up and become part of the one world-wide religion.

Jesus isn't a religion he is God's Son and the great missionary of God's. He came from heaven to earth and became one of us. He died and rose. His love, which I don't deserve marks me. He knows me as I am and loves me. He put me in a family and in the Church. Now I bump into people sharing the joy of knowing that Christ goes before me. No one I meet is a stranger of enemy they are fellow travelers and people who God's Spirit is calling. Will you discover the joy of sharing Jesus with me? I am looking forward to this next week and the opportunity to share the greatest news in the world with people who will listen.
Gone Fishin,
PJ

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Missional Surge


I am so amazed to discover in my encounter with friends that God is on the move in a way that is absolutely profound. On one hand my "I AM" friends and my friends that are into Native American spirituality and Buddhism speak of a vision of life that is out of tune with the realities of everyday. Where are the rescue missions, hospitals and feeding programs that these spiritualities give birth to? But the Thrift Stores and Christmas baskets come from plain old salt of the earth Christ-followers.
There is a dna that is contagious. It started with God sending Jesus and infecting a few who in turn caught the grace and mercy of a God who loves us enough to die for us. Here is a good who is real. A crucified God who suffers with us and impacts people. God is at work all around us. God is calling us to participate in the greatest mission of love. To tell people that Jesus is for all people and that this good news is exclusively in Jesus. It is like breathing in and breathing out. Real Christ-followers are discovering that God is calling us to care for the people around us. And that joy is in the mission. The purpose of life is all about this mission of God.

Blessings, PJ

Monday, March 22, 2010

What NOW?


Today after the senate and congress moved to pass the health care bill everyone is asking: what now? Some in worry and some in great anticipation. But no matter what happens we are invited to remember that God is on the throne. Jesus is Lord not Caesar or Obama.

Human politics and human religion are filled with our brokenness and corruption but the kingdom of heaven is loose in the world. Right alongside the work of the Democratic and Republican party, God is setting up a new kingdom. The Church too often aligns itself with one side or the other; but Jesus is calling us to give our allegiance to the kingdom of God. It is this hope that keeps me positive today. From the rubble of our fallen world Jesus is rising to life in the midst of the people who cling to him.
Blessings, PJ

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ancient Christianity in 2010?

Well, let me continue to set my personal pastoral life in context. The local community college shows the diversity. In the 70's Iranians came. My red neck rancher father-in-law was invited to help in their plan to dispose of the Shah by his "blood brother" Muslim friend. Most of them left when he was removed from power but others followed from all over the world. The flags in the student union show the diversity but when they have their spirituality fair so do the book tables fundamentalist Christians, Buddhists and new age groups.

We the people of this wild country want to be free from government and some of us have a dream of a new state, thus the State of Jefferson movement that has roots back to the 1800's, and some are beginning to think of a new nation of mountain folk. But who would pay for our roads, schcols and ah... whatever else the big cities life for?

It is different here but it is also the same thing most Americans are facing. Many people who consider themselves red blood Americans see Jesus as just another religious leader albeit a good one. But there a hope that God is universal and of course angels or something like that. It is a hodge podge spirituality. Some are atheists, agnostics but most people consider themselves spiritual. There are a few churches that are doing well and many that are small and struggling. Spirituality has taken a weird personal and private turn. People who call themselves "Christians" are shopping for a church in the same way they shop for the best big screen HDTV. The pastors I know are mostly traditional with some mixture of desire to be relevant. There are few who are seeking to be hip and cutting edge, a new kind of Christian. This is the world in which I live, pray, love my wife and look forward to visits with my family.

But I have been wondering for a long time what it means to be shaped by the Living presence of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, very ancient and unique words in this world. I don't want to go back to the fifties, though many of my friends dream of that. But I want to live with the wisdom of Christ Jesus rooted in the scriptures, ancient wisdom of the church fathers and mothers, the Reformers and Puritans. This is what this blog is about. We are all believers in some way. But I am betting my life that belief in the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit is the life that will not only sustain me but lead me into the epic purpose of real life. I am a human like you that is inviting you to share this adventure that I have been in for forty years. Join with me as I pray and share life with you openly and vulnerable to the hurt and disappointment we all face.
Blessings, PJ

Tuesday, March 16, 2010