Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reflections From Sunday Evening

A special thanks to John Miller for speaking this weekend.  John is our Lay Leader and also serves as the NW District Lay Leader.  This represents the strong connection between clergy and laity that is essential for a church to serve the Lord and community.  John brought us a great message speaking of worship from the lay perspective.  Thanks John.
We do have a unique situation at Platte Woods.  We have a great staff that is responsible for managing the work of the church on a daily basis.  They do a great job.  At the same time we know that as staff our ministry is to serve Christ and the congregation.  Together we provide a witness that contributes to leading people to follow Jesus.
I had the opportunity to lead worship this weekend.  I am thankful for those who helped out with the Apostle's Creed today.  When it was time to start I couldn't think of the words.  I knew it was not "I pledge allegiance" but it took someone in the congregation to say "I believe".  You just never know...
On another note...can somebody tell me why I put myself through watching these Chiefs games?  Maybe the second half...
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Today in worship we presented Third Graders with their Bibles.  That is always one of my favorite things we do.  It is encouraging to see the eagerness for God's Word in young hearts.
We were led in prayer by a student and family.  Another young person read the scripture today.  Thanks Noah and Megan!  It looks to me like the future is very hopeful.
Hopeful is not the word I sense many people have been using over the past few weeks.  Despair seems more like it.  I also hear a good bit of anger and confusion. 
A little over a year ago we were shocked by the shooting in Orlando.  Now Las Vegas.  We talk.  We mourn.  We take precautions.  We do a lot of things.  Still we have no iron clad assurance that a senseless act of violence will not happen again.  (Of course there are parts of the world where these things have become common.  May we never fall into that sense of resignation).
But in spite of all the storms, shootings, war and threats of war, fear and the list goes on, we are hopeful.
By "we" I mean Christians - followers of the Lord of Life, the Savior of the World, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Great Physician, the Alpha and Omega, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, the Gate, The Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Vine, the I Am - Jesus.
Jesus  brings life to a church.  A church welcomes children and families.  A young life is being formed by the Spirit, a Christian family, and a vibrant Church community.  Hope keeps calling.
Never forget the future is firmly held in God's grip of grace.  Person after person are finding their hearts touched by that same grace.  We witnessed this hopeful miracle today.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Reflections From Sunday Evening

I am tempted to write about sports today.  The Royals are finishing up the end of an era.  The last five years have been really good for baseball in K.C.  But now it is time to move into the off season and see what it looks like on March 29, 2018.  But I don't want to write about sports today.
Maybe a little more about sports...In the old, old days when the Chiefs were as good as any team in football they had a transition time with their roster.  In the 1970's they went with loyalty and held on to some great veterans who made the Chiefs the great team they were.  And they ended up with decades of futility for it.  There comes a time to say thank you and move into the next phase.
One more thing about sports.  Russell Westbrook signed a 205 million dollar contract to play basketball.  That is all.
That is enough sports.
Oh yes, one more thing.  NW Missouri had an amazing comeback win to stay undefeated. 
One more thing...Baker is undefeated at 6-0.  In case you had been wondering.
That really is enough.
Surely there is a transition to faith in this somewhere.  Perhaps the lesson lies in "turn the page".  God's mercies are fresh every morning.  Turn the page.
The Resurrection of Jesus makes every day a new possibility filled with hope.  Turn the page.
The faith is always moving with growth and depth of insight.  Turn the page.
The Church is always on the move.  Turn the page.
There is no resting on past success or victory.  Turn the page.
The possibility of reaching a new person for Jesus Christ propels us forward.  Turn the page.
So there you have it.  Sports, faith, church.
Turn the page.  The story of your life and your church and your faith continues to be written.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Christians need to practice.  We need to practice what to do when times are dire.  Luke 21 gives us directions.  Here is how Luke paints the picture of troubled times.
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25-28)
These are good directions for every age during the Christian era.  These are good directions for us today.
Rather than me make some long list of all the things that cause fear and anxiety today, I will let you make your own.  Let me remind you what followers of Jesus do in times like this.
When everything seems to be shaking all around us...
When one crisis follows another...
When we are worried...anxious...fearful.
Stand up!  These are not times to shirk our call to follow Jesus.
Lift up your heads!  These days calls for courageous faith.
Your redemption is drawing near!  God seems to move most powerfully when things seem most discouraging.  God will not leave us adrift. 
What will you do to Stand up, lift your heads, watch your Redeemer draw near?
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
Steve

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reflections From Sunday Evening

The week that was...
This past week my brother's daughter Rachel gave birth to their first child.  Welcome to the world Charlie Myers!
Later Cindy and I attended the funeral for one year old Jane Weber.  Her family has been dear to us for decades.
The back and forth of life continues.  Joy - sorrow - joy.
A week ago we were talking about the hurricanes in Florida and saying prayers for the people in the path.  A week later that becomes old news.  But here is the difference.  The Church is in this for the long haul.  The media moves on.  We help people re-build life.
This is one of the amazing things about the people of God.  We just don't quit.  We rejoice with those who rejoice.  We mourn with those who mourn.  We give thanks with those who are grateful.  We support those in need.  We bless those living in faith.  We encourage those in doubt.  We just don't quit.
We don't quit because God won't quit.  Whatever your week has brought (or might bring) God is powerfully present.  Our is a God who saves, redeems, empowers - always.  We, the people of God - the Church - are God's instruments of choice for witness and service in the world.  So, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we won't quit.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Seasons.  Baseball season is winding down with its 'second season', the playoffs, coming soon.
Football season is just getting under way.  Chiefs may be interesting this year.
When those of my generation were growing up we played the games during their season.  We seemed to cycle through each year as we grew up.  We continue thinking in terms of "seasons".
We understand that life has seasons.
There are seasons in the Church year.
With this in mind I have a difficult time relating to today's year round sports.  It seems that at an early age kids are expected to choose what they will do.  Then they do one thing all year.
Maybe that is the way to do things.  It is hard to argue with focusing on something and staying with it.  It is a good way to get really good at something.
But I appreciate the ways things were.  We didn't even have organized sports until nearly junior high.  We would just get together and go play.
Now here it comes - the application.
Are there seasons in the Christian life?  Are we meant to be totally focused on one aspect of the life of faith and become proficient?  Or is there a rhythm to the Christian life?  Are there seasons of preparation and seasons of serving?  Are there seasons of discovery and seasons of giving?  Are there seasons where prayer is a learning focus?  Are there seasons where we get acquainted with evangelism?
I really do not have a definitive answer to my questions.  But I am going to lean toward various seasons of Christian faith where we move from day to day, and season to season, being formed by the Spirit.
I wonder what season you are in?
It's been a great day.  I hope you've had a great day too.
steve

Monday, September 4, 2017

Reflections From Sunday Evening

I have been reading a devotion on faith.  It consists of a series of scriptures talking about faith.  You read and reflect.  Something strikes me about this whole idea of praying in faith.  Evidently when we pray and believe something happens!  I believe that.  I have believed that for a long time.  The problem is my experience does not always match up with the circumstances.
For instance, when I read a passage like Mark 11:22-25 I hear Jesus instructing his followers "to not doubt in their hearts but believe what they say will happen", and it will be done for them.
Mark 11:24 is one of those verses we read and "want" to believe but it seems to be in contrast to reality.  "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Frankly I have been praying for a long time.  This, and verses like it, are in my heart and mind.  But sometimes when I ask God for something He seems silent.  Is it me?  Am I doing something wrong?  Some teachers will place blame on the person praying when a request for healing goes unanswered.  That is bad teaching. (in my opinion)  So what do we do?
My question to myself is "how do I go from 'wondering why' to 'will'"?
When I pray how do I go from wondering why this verse is in the Bible?
How do I go from wondering why I am told to ask in this manner?
How do I go from wondering why God seems silent?
How do I go from wondering why the prayer seems unanswered?
How do I go from wondering why the scripture says this but the answer seems elusive?
I could go on with my wondering why.
How do I find myself with a mindset of "will"?
God will hear our prayers.
God will answer our prayers.
God will move in our lives.
God will.  God will.  God will.
Oh, if you have read this and are expecting an answer, sorry.  I'm just sharing where I am in my prayer life at this point.  I have witnessed lots of prayers answered.  Many of them have come over a long period of time.  Many have required deeper reflection to see where God has been working.  But I still wonder.
It's been a good day.
I hope you've had a good day too.
steve