Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Notes to the Lord: Why Confront?

Scripture Reflection Matthew 18
17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Lord Jesus--In the middle of this teaching on discipline and leadership in the kingdom there is this teaching on the importance of the value of community in the fellowship. You are putting an exclamation point put on the nature of leadership with your church. This is the reason why there is the need for loving consistent confrontation of known sin.

There is power in the community of believers when they come together in agreement. There is power when people come together in agreement and you are the focus.

There are only two times when you use the word "church" before the cross. It is here and after Peter's confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi. Here you are extending the same power to the church at its smallest unit as it has at any size.

Binding and loosing along with agreement toward a goal are powerful in the hands of believers. Holding on and letting go...binding and loosing are essential functions of the church. What are we willing to allow in the fellowship? More importantly who are we willing to allow into the circle that is looked to for leadership and direction? What gets promoted and focused on? If this element is overlooked and unattended God can not bless.

Lord Jesus--I can mess this up so easily. At times I want to hang on when I really should just let go. Then there are times when I want to run not walk away from where you really want me to be. Your leadership in the binding...hanging on...and the loosing...the letting go is essential. As it is ends up being expressed in the life of the church it becomes even more essential.

19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Lord Jesus--Agreement toward a goal in prayer is powerful and decisive in the life of the church. It is the beginning of where power is released. The promise of your attendance where two are gatheredd in your name is tied to the same power that sent you to Earth and that was demonstrated when you were raised from the dead.

Why confront? It seems so simple here in this quiet place...that if resurrection power is to be at work among your people then it takes people who are not defocused by sin that so easily entangles us. In the world out there it can get so confusing at times.

Lord Jesus--Let your power be released in my life, help me to allow your Holy Spirit to shape the binding and the loosing in my life, bring people into my life that create that kind of accountability that keeps me focused on the essentials...who you are and who you have called me to be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Notes to the Lord:How do found sheep treat each other?

Scripture Reflection:
Matthew 18

Lord Jesus--I never really thought about context of these teachings. They all string together from the original question of: who is greatest in the kingdom. T
he backdrop being Jerusalem is in the distance and you are working your way toward the cross.

So really this is instruction given to self important people all of whom need to grow and fit into the structure of your coming kingdom
. Fitting all the pieces together Lord Jesus, it must have been difficult to be so close to meeting your most difficult hour and to see that those who would be responsible for the mission be so...shallow, and self absorbed. So you called them t
o entering the kingdom child like and reminded them of the reality of where they came from...just lost sheep.

The reality is Lord I can be self absorbed and shallow...and yet you continue to work with me. You continue to spend mercy and grace on me. Even in the looming shadow of the cross you continued to teach these men, so you continue to shape and form me within the context that you find me. Thank you Lord for your grace.

15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'

In the middle of life people mess up and here you give clear direction on how to handle it. You remind me, that I all to often will be the one needing correction. So how do we treat each ot
her? Directly is what you called for. You call me to honesty in relationships, no denial or looking the other way, but frontal view, face to face, without distraction. If that does not work, then it is time for witnesses.

17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

There is a time to walk away from a relationship. I tend to err on the side of attempting to m
ake things work long after it is clear that repentance is not going to occur. Lord Jesus there are times when you are exactly right. There comes a time when listening more just confirms the sin.

How do lost sheep treat one another? Directly, honestly with witnesses if necessary.
Realizing that sin can not be ignored or it will eat away at the health of the whole. Where is mercy and hope? Hope that repentance will come...hope that walking the other way will bring change.

Lord Jesus in this day that is coming soon...lead and guide me. If there are those situations where confrontation is needed, help me to face the truth with grace, mercy and honesty. Lord Jesus work.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Wandering Around

Scripture Reflections:
Matthew 18

10"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven

Lord Jesus--There is truth in the thought that every one on this journey of faith is really a child. There is no time to look down on these little ones because I am one of them....and there is con
nection with the Father for those who understand the nature of their dependence.

Lord Jesus--Remind me of my child status in the kingdom. I like the thought of my angel's having eye contact with the Father.
So much can be communicated with a simple look. The Father loves lost fact he has been on a search and restore mission for the last two millennium.

12"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?

Lord Jesus-- I can relate to just wandering off. Sometimes it is just the result of grazing, nothing really intentional about it at all. Just one blade of grass at a time and the grass is just a bit more tastier on the other side of this little fence. And after all the Master really doesn't want me to be limited. I am so glad that you came after me...and continue to come after me when I just wander from the know me so well.

13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

Lord Jesus--Thank you for leaving the Father's side and the halls of heaven to reach out to lost sheep who were only thinking of the next blade of grass and lost track of the way back.

So how does this fit with the original question of who is the greatest in the Kingdom?

It is those who have identified first that they are humbly just children in the Kings court nothing more that are greatest...and at the same time are willing to own the mission of connecting with as many other wandering children as possible, to bring them back to the Father.

Lord Jesus--Remind me of the mission today..

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Notes to the Lord:The Eternal in the Everyday

Scripture Reflection

Matthew 18 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Lord Jesus--So who are the little ones that you are talking about here? If I have to enter the kingdom as a child then...everyone who
follows your call is a little one...a cared for one. Each little one is a person who is of infinite worth and value. A person who steps are watched over and guided as they learn the steps of the faith walk.

7"Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!

Lord Jesus--This is a fatally flawed world that we live in, a fallen world. A place where evil for the time being has entrance. This is not the way that it was intend. There is a reason for sorrow.

8If your hand o
r your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

The importance
of my life impacting those around me positively, pushing them toward you, is so important that pieces of me thrown away are less important.

Jesus--In this day help me to show your grace in my life in positive, affirming ways to those you have entrusted to my care. The eternal is lived out in the everyday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Entering Like a Child

Matthew 18 1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Lord Jesus--The context of this question is just so twisted and sad as I think about it. On the way to Jerusalem and death awaiting with the unseen battles that must have been playing out in the background of your mind and heart, and those closest to you are questioning status.

What a classic picture of asking the exactly wrong question at exactly the wrong time that lets out all too much of the real condition of the heart. I am certain I have done this same thing...and broken your heart in the process. Forgive me Lord for bad timing and worse a heart that at times is just too small and too case hardened.

2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Lord Jesus--Entrance into your kingdom is not based on status, on who we are, or what we have done...but on humbly accepting mercy and grace that is unmerited and unearned. Remind me again Lord of what you have done and who I am...a person in need of mercy each day.

5"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

Lord Jesus--It makes me wonder about all the welcomes I have given and the reasons for them. It is really so simple a welcome in your name to little ones is really a welcome of you. Remind me of that next Sunday as I am greeting the children. I am really greeting you...and welcoming you into your own house. What a picture...Jesus welcomed in a baby's toothless grin. I love it.

How I welcome those who have little status in this world is one of the major indicators of spiritual health and the gospel being lived out with grace in my life. Lord Jesus help me to live out your call in this coming day.

Notes to the Lord:Everything Does Not Turn Out the Way We Would Like

Scripture Reflections:Matthew 17

22When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.
23They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life." And the disciples were filled with grief.

Lord Jesus--I never really thought about it before but these two incident really go together...your coming death and the temple tax are a part of the same puzzle...a part of the same rejection.

You were rejected by those you came to save. Was that the way it had to be? Not if I really believe in free will. The religious elite of your day had a much a choice as I do...and they rejected you.

But for the disciples large theological questions would have to wait. They were cycling through their grief and grieving takes energy and time. Step one in the greiving process is denial...that is the reason for the frequent reminders of what going to Jerusalem meant.

24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"25"Yes, he does," he replied.When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?" 26"From others," Peter answered.

Lord Jesus--This was another teaching moment for Peter...showing him in another context that those who were in charge of temple worship did not accept your leadership. They did not accept your identity, they did not see you as a son but as someone who was "other."

"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your
line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."

Remind me again Lord that you are the one who has all the dollars and cents worked out. You own the cattle on a thousand hills and all of the nickels, numbers and noses are available to you.

You are the one who knows where all the fish are and what is in their mouths. Teach me to trust that you are in control of what appear to be problems that crop up in my way. You are in control and know what needs to happen. Each incident can be a teaching moment even on the way to Jerusalem...there were lessons that needed to be learned and filed away. Continue your shaping process in my life Lord Jesus.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Where does my faith end?

Scripture Reflection: Matthew 17

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15"Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."

Lord Jesus--I can understand the way the disciples must have felt...they had watched you and they had been delegated this responsibility. Yet they could not complete the task. I know that I have learned from failures...but they are never comfortable.

17"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." 18Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

All it took was a word from you and the boy was relieved of this demon that had chased him and made his life twisted and crisis driven. A future was given, a family restored by your simple word. The same voice that had spoken creation into existence spoke mercy and hope into a life that had seen to much fire and water, too much oppression.

Lord Jesus--Speak the words of power where my life has been twisted and crisis driven. There are places where I can go only by those words of power being spoken...words of release and hope come from your grace and unmerited mercy.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" 20He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'

It is all about faith and growing faith in my life. "I believe Lord, Help my unbelief"...comes to mind. That was a father's prayer in a similar situation. I haven't seen many moving mountains so, I think we are all in about the same situation...growing faith a bit at a time. Lord Jesus have your way in my heart and life and find ways to grow my faith in the days ahead.

Upfront and personal
So what about the times when my faith is just not up to the challenge? It is to the point where my faith ends that you bring me again and is the only way to see miracles happen. I have to come face to face with the impossible and allow you to work. I can see the places where the impossible needs to happen Lord.

So my prayer right now is Jesus work...push my faith down the road a bit further today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Notes to the Lord;Expectation and the Cross

Scripture Reflections:Matthew 17

9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

Lord Jesus--There is something about expectations and about the way in which you work that catches me by surprise. It is the same thing that left the disciples surprised and frighten at times. High points are many times the places where right turns are just ahead, that lead to places I would never expect to end up.

The disciples did not want to hear the teachings of the cross, and this reference to telling people about this incident of your glory after your being raised from the dead must have jarred their sense of the future.

10The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" 11Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands."13Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Lord Jesus--In the middle of their expectations they were face to face with the future which you knew and saw racing full speed toward them. They had expectations about the future that would be brought face to face with the cross...unblinkingly they would have to come the end of their own expectations and dreams of the future.

Up close and personal
What do you see of the future for me and this group that you have gathered at Living Springs? I am sure that my expectations will be continued to be jarred and wrenched free from where they are currently. There is still the call to follow even when expectations and reality are not the same. There is still that still clear voice that calls me to discipleship and obedience. Your voice leads me by the way of your cross. Through it to see your glory and experience your life lived out through my wandering steps. Jesus lead on in this day that will dawn in just a few hours. Help me to allow you to mold and temper my expectations with your unending and patient grace.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Notes to the Lord: Kissing the Ground when Necessary

Matthew 16:28-17:6
28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Lord Jesus--I wonder if Peter and James and John got it...that this was the Son of Man coming in his least in a taiste of it. Here is just a bit of the glory that will be the center of
the kingdom that is to come. Rapped up in light and glory, surrounded by the heroes of ages past. That will be sight to see.

Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."

I have a feeling that this was the last place that Peter thought he fit in...he wanted there to be some kind of controls, somekind of structure to this experience that he found himself in. There are times when it is just too free form for me too, this life that you have called me to. I can understand how Peter felt. By attempting to control the uncontrollable Peter missed out on experiencing the moment.

5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

Lord Jesus--The validation and interaction with the Father was the reason that You came up the mountain with the Peter, James and John. You came up the mountain to bring the disciples face to face with the glory that you left by coming to earth, and that you deserve.

6When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." 8When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

Lord Jesus--I am just like the these three followers of yours, I can only handle a bit of the realization of Your glory...of the majesty and power that you possess. Yet I still want to go up the mountain with you, I can still be hard to handle after all these years.

So what is the application? Where is the upfront and personal? You ask me to take each day with what it offers to me without the need to control the outcomes, if I feel overwhelmed I can always kiss the ground like Peter, James and John did and I will be in pretty good company.

Lord Jesus work in this day...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Watching the River Run

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 16

27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

Lord Jesus--In the middle of doing life, it is real easy to think that this will last forever. Sometimes I even want it to. In the mix of following you and of doing my best to lead, I need to be reminded from time to time that this is not all there is. It is not just about family, and friends and a place on this earth...heaven is around the next corner. Rewards await, based on grace, and faithfulness to the task will be rewarded. Children raised well are their own reward: to see them sinking their roots deep in You, in relationships of worth and in work that is worth doing.

But heaven awaits...there will be a time when we will meet face to face. As I write these lines, I know that we have never met, except in that still quiet place of my soul. You have spoken to me in a way that I really can't describe of grace, of kindness and of mercy. There have been times where You have been present in such reality that further explanation for the need of faithfulness seems shallow. I follow to find another drink from that see that water running in my life.

John 7
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

Flow within my life Lord water bringing life where ever you touch.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Note to the Lord: Letting Go

Matthew 16

25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Lord Jesus--I have been thinking a bit about holding on and letting go. Sometimes I hold on for dear life when the best thing to do would be just to let go and see what happens. That is the growing edge.

I am sure that it is something about control and the need to feel safe, but that piece is there no matter how much I try to not look at that part of my soul. It is the republican part...the part that remembers times long past when need was large and resources were limited. It is the part that wants to conserve just for the sake of conserving.

Lord Jesus as you said these words you saw the
cross ahead of you. You knew what was coming long before it arrived. There is always risk in the letting go. You showed me how to let go. You demomstrated living through the risk...the dieing. You did not conserve yourself and you could have. Amazing!

There is a truth in the simple fact that there are places that I can only get to as I am open to your leading and sometimes that means letting go of things which were tightly held at one point to see how you will use them. You have to have room enough in my heart and life to work. It is a lesson that I keep having to learn.

Lord work as you see fit...even in the letting go.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Notes to the Lord: More Teachings on The Cross

Matthew 16

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Lord Jesus--This is not something that I like to hear in the middle of life that runs by me at 74 miles an hour. You and I both know
that I always go just on the edges of trouble which right now on the New York State thruway is 74. That just is the way that I am. It is within the context of a careening life lived at 74 miles per hour, the lesson of the cross surfaces for me again.

At this point in my walk with you, Lord Jesus, I firmly believe in Divine appointments. Lessons learned from you do not come by accident...there is the Divine at work in the synchronicity of life. There are times of teaching when I need to catch what you are bringing into my life. Does that mean that you bring pain into my life? No, but everything and anything can be worked into the lesson...just like a good teacher does. Life is your class room for the formation not just of my mind but of my soul.

What w
as the cross for you Lord Jesus?

It was a place that you did not want to go to, but freely choose at the direction of the Father. It was a place of execution, and death. The cross was obedience summed up in two pieces of wood. You were there when trees were created and yet you allowed yourself to be stretched out on that wood. Amazing.

Lord Jesus--You know why this reminder has come when it has...I hear your call. A call to slowing it down a notch or to...listening and then obey even within a life that is lived out much too fast. It is in the middle of life that you form and shape my soul into your likeness.