Saturday, September 26, 2015

Learning My Own Sermon

Woke up on Thursday morning – asked the Lord to be in my day and committed myself to paying attention to Him in all of my ordinary moments – just as I had spent three weeks preaching about. – then off to the church office where I had blocked out the day to finish my message and some desk work. Of course this is “important” “valuable” work and time well spent!  Somewhere along about 1:30pm I just got stuck in my sermon prep and instead of working through it I decided to find a diversion – the men’s bathroom in the sanctuary needed a new float mechanism – maybe I will just do that …  Master plumber that I am I shut the water valve off by the back of the toilet, pulled out the float, put in a new one, reconnected the water line and turned the water valve back on – simple… except there wasn’t any water coming through. HMMM – turned the valve off again and pulled off the water line to see if it was clogged – nope – looks good, and then I noticed that there appeared to be something blocking the actual valve coming from the wall; that’s when it happened -  without warning – a couple pebbles along with the interior parts of the valve shot out the top of the valve followed by an unstoppable explosion of water halted only by the ceiling of the bathroom!! I turned the valve shut – but it just spun round and round as the bathroom began filling with water. In a feat of incredible strength I stopped the water with my left thumb, grabbed my wet cell phone and began dialing the office upstairs – no answer! So I began to shout for help in between the occasional moments I could not hold the water back and it would blast up in my face.  Finally I just let go and raced upstairs for the water box key, back down the stairs and outside to shut off the water and then back inside only to see water pouring out into the sanctuary – wrong valve –back outside, around the building and finally shut it down…..

Completely soaked I began to mop up the mess which also included the basement bathroom since the water had found its way down there through the ceiling… I went over to see the Ace “helpful hardware man” down the street  - I didn’t even have to tell him the problem as he looked at me – completely soaking wet holding out the old valve. That was embarrassing! Back to church, a couple trips up and down the stairs and I replaced the valve – all is well again – I better get back to ”valuable” work at my desk… except that somewhere along the line I had locked my keys in my office!  GRRR! Using a credit card – a trick I learned in college – I finally got the door open – 15 minutes later.

I could say things got better as I applied myself to my work but it didn’t. I was so wet I didn’t want to sit at my desk – and I wasn’t of a very spiritual mind at the moment anyways – so back to another diversion – the kitchen sink drain in the Discipleship House had been draining super slow. All I can say is that after much investigation I discovered that just under the sink cover plate there was probably 30 years of buildup completely blocking any drainage – I would include a picture but it was far too disturbing  for public distribution– I scooped it out,  - yuck - scrubbed it down and got it running clean and free again.

Back at my desk – after several hours – I sat down and started back into my message – we are on the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. No wonder I was stuck.  This was not how this day was supposed to go – have I done anything of value?  I read though the genealogy again – lists of people, generations, some very faithful and some not so nice and more than a few who were of a very poor reputation … and then Jesus!    I was suddenly reminded of all these lives lived, lives full of opportunities, failures, strengths, weaknesses and years and years of ordinary moments…. And Jesus was born into that family tree and into those same moments and moved through His days like us, and probably experienced ordinary, maddening days like mine had been. Their stories were much like ours and the genealogy showed that the Lord was in those lives and days All the moments are part of the whole picture, part of my shaping,, all enfolded into God’s greater story.

Then I remembered our series on “Sanctification of the Ordinary” – that all our work was of value and how we were reminded to use the ordinary moments – even the difficult and frustrating ones – as an opportunity to turn freshly to Jesus – to see Him in all those places and also to learn to stop amidst all the moments and remember that He is the one who does the work – to be refreshed in the stopping.

And so finally I stopped and rested and reflected and listened.  Sermon prep, toilet and drain repairs, locked doors, wet trips to the hardware store – all were gifts –opportunities to pay attention to Him, to be more like Him, to reflect Him no matter what work I was doing.

I Cor. 10:31 -    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Watch the video to the left and enjoy this - beautiful!

Entrance - Liz Vice

There you were hanging, transforming the pain into
Entrance into your heart
Before we could come in, you had to destroy within
The dark that kept us apart
Before we had heard of you, but had no concern for you
Darkness was all around
The wall was so high, no way to get by
But then you tore it all down

We crossed the threshold and death lost his control
As the sun rose in our hearts
We felt the warm embrace, of your sovereign grace
Now, every day we can start
To live and love with you, follow and worship you
With songs that flow from our soul.
Filled with the light of you, as we are led by you
Longing with joy to be home

Jesus come, take our hand
Lead us into the promise land (X4)


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not grasping

My thanks to Cameron who was leading worship on Saturday night - left after the service and wrote down these reflections and so I share them with you. We were in Philippians 2:5-11. The message is online at the church website

“To those who received him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Receiving him. Welcoming him. Believing in him. Accepting his finished work. If it’s all gift, there’s nothing to be grasped at. Nothing to earn that is not freely given. What are you believing right now about what it will take for God to accept you, love you, like you? Could your zeal no respite know, could your tears forever flow, none of it could atone or make you good enough. All that’s required is receiving him, believing you are his valuable child; because he says so, and because he did the work.

But it’s a value he gives to all, and not a value by degree that you can outwardly earn. Not by competition, attractiveness, or being the most-efficient. Not through selflessness or self-flagellation, by being holier than your spouse, or through any other religious fervor. Nothing is earned. It’s all a gift. In Jesus alone your atonement is known. The rock on which you rest, sleep, stand, cook — enjoy your life — is Jesus. And his gift is freely given.

Or did he not finish his work? Did he leave something undone that you by your sweat and striving and inner judgements will complete?

What would it be like to just believe that it’s finished? That it’s all just given as a gift? Your sonship, your daughterhood, your unshakeable identity. Who would you be in the world? What kind of kingdom would be modeled in your life to others? As Pastor Chris said, if you didn’t earn it, no one else did either. Could you forgive them for not being holy? If the ground on which you rest is only grace, isn’t there boundless room to stretch out that grace like a warm blanket for others?

I want to lift up that one. I want to bow my knees for him. The kindest, gentlest, humblest king. All things were made through him, the Word who was the formation of all that is hidden and unspoken in the unfathomable mind of God. That one came to us offering universal acquittal, full reconciliation. He came to his own and his own did not receive him.

He comes to us, and we don’t receive him.

All that we so noisily run after, abuse and manipulate others for, compete, strive, and grasp after, he humbly offers in a quiet inner quiescence. Just receive. It’s free. Just receive. Peace, rest, belonging, value, and love are offered freely, without cost. You who cannot afford it, come buy milk and wine without money and without cost. But we insist on paying. How can we have anything of true value to offer others if we’re still busy striving to earn our worth — grasping at it — the same way as everyone else? We reflect our king poorly, and so the world doesn’t see a king worth lifting up.

They don’t believe in the goodness of the gift, because we don’t either.

What does it look like to cut the rope to which we cling, alone and freezing to death? To let go of our own grip and find that we are already held. What is the death of self? What part of you dies if you cut the rope of your own earned-holiness and rest only on his word about you? If it’s all a gift and nothing that you earn, why do you insist on paying? Why do you want the law? Don’t you know that the only thing that writes the law into your very heart is love? While those sinners are yet sinners, he loves them. While you currently fall short, he loves you.

Jesus, I need faith to receive you fully. To trust you not only for my identity, but for joy, for pleasure, for enough food and enough money, for direction and meaning, for a lady. You said I am your son, and all you have is mine. May I thank you for the gifts even before I see them or fully understand them.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


A great meditation on God's mercy as expressed in a really beautiful hymn.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Here are two outstanding daily reading resources to help in making Christ central and to freshly engage in the wonder of the Gospel and the mission of God during the Lent season:

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Have not posted forever - time to get back on track. I will start with this great post by my friend Peter Santucci since it touches on some of our frequent themes here at the Vineyard... besides it is a great vision to support as well.

Welcome To The Table: Partnering With A Church Plant | ECO Presbyterian