Wednesday, 29 February 2012

What should I pray for?

St. Paul wrote many letters to young congregations.  In these letters, he told them he had been praying for them.  Interestingly enough, he prayed almost the exact same thing for each congregation.  He prayed that they would:

Grow and increase in all spiritual wisdom and knowledge of what God wants, in order that their lives may display His will in all things.

This is an excellent thing to pray for - for yourself - for your family - for your church family.  May God give us all a deeper and growing knowledge of what He wants, that we may show all of creation His good and gracious will.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Truth is Always Brave

The topic at hand for today is "The Truth".

Does it speak up for itself?  When falsehood is present does it point that that falsehood out?  Can it remain silent in the presence of lies?

Answer: The Truth is Always Brave. 

The truth does not hide, but like a city on top of a hill - it cannot be hid.  The truth is not afraid.  The truth is not timid.  The truth does not apologize.  The truth does not compromise.  Why? 

Because it is the truth. 

It can stand amidst threats.  It can endure against slander.  It always shows itself true in the end.

Death could not even hold Christ in the grave, because the truth lives.  So regardless of what situation you are in, regardless of how afraid you might be, regardless of what may come against you - speak the truth in a loving way, because the truth is always brave.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day?

Today is Feb. 14th, the day that the Western world traditionally celebrates Valentine's Day.  We all know the excitement that has become Valentine's Day, but where did it come from?  Why do we express our love on this day?

St. Valentine was a physician and priest who lived in Rome in the third century.  He was a martyr, which means he was murdered for believing in Jesus Christ.  On this day in AD 270, Feb. 14th, Valentine was executed for his Christian faith, but it was what he did just before his death that has created our modern day celebration.  He left a note of encouragement for the child of his jailer, a note that he wrote on an irregularly shaped piece of paper.  This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is really a story about faith, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  For St. Valentine trusted in the sacrificial death of Christ so much, that he was willing to be put to death for it himself.  The encouraging note he wrote shows that the love St. Valentine had received from His Savior Jesus, overflowed to those around him, even to the child of the man preparing him for execution.  May the Lord encourage us also by this example of faith, that we may be strengthened in knowing we are not alone in our walk with our ever-present God, but are surrounded by a growing cloud of witnesses.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Does God exist?

When people say in their hearts: "There is no God" they create a worldview of denial.  Their mind is thinking about denying things as opposed to affirming things.  They must feed this idea of their hearts with more and more negative things.  They must continue to prove what "is not."  They must continue to deny what "is."  All of life becomes about denying, proving things wrong and putting things down.
Down is a fitting direction for such a heart.

However, when people believe in their hearts: There is a God and His Name is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they create a worldview of affirmation.  Their mind is thinking about affirming things.  They get to feed this idea of their hearts with more and more positive things.  They get to focus on what "is."  All of life becomes one constant affirmation which they are receiving from God.
Up is a fitting direction for such a heart.

Does God exist?  The answer determines the direction of your life.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Why does God allow suffering?

Many people often ask the question:  How does a good God allow so much suffering?

Luther wrote: "He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering.  Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and  in general, good to evil.  These are the people whom the apostle calls "enemies of the cross of Christ" [Phil 3:8], for they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works.  Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good."

As humans, we seem to think we understand when something is "good" or "bad/evil."  But then we see our God hanging on a cross, tortured beyond recognition, and publicly humiliated before everyone.  As Christians we call this day, "Good Friday."  But it seems like total defeat.  Total shame.  Total failure.  Already we must realize that we don't understand the first thing about suffering, but we can be certain about one thing...

God has only revealed Himself to us in the suffering and death of His Son.  Christ has suffered everything that everyone has ever suffered.  He does not desire suffering any more than any of us, but His passion for our salvation, His deep compassion, His undying love compells Him to endure it on our behalf.  His cross brings meaning to our suffering.  It brings purpose.  Value.  And when that final day comes - it will bring glory.

God brings immeasurably more salvation through His suffering than His glory, and the same is true of our suffering.  Why does God allow suffering?  Because He is able to use our temporary suffering for eternal good.  Thanks be to God.