What does God do when you make a mess in your life including hurting others? There is a difficult story about King David that can teach us something about how to live better with God’s grace.
All posts by Ben
Article: Jam in the Valley
We’ve been spending some time on the weekends telling stories about people who found themselves in a “jam.” No likes obstacles or trouble, but they are a fact of life. Some of the most revered people of the Bible faced great difficulties.
The question is not how to avoid all potential jams because we can’t. The question at hand is how do we navigate the trouble when it is upon us? Certainly, some of our problems are self-inflicted and some are not. We can armchair quarterback the decisions we made in the past, but those conclusions don’t alter the present reality.
Psalm 23:4 reminds us how to face the problems of this life and clarifies the how we move forward.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The operative word in this verse is “through.” We don’t backtrack, avoid, or circle around. We move through those less than pleasant experiences to get to the other side.
There is no way to avoid a jam– and spending any time to avoid life’s potholes will leave you empty and afraid.
With God’s help, we chart a course through the valley of the shadow of death. With God’s comfort, we can take the steps necessary to move beyond the current jam in our lives.
Jesus knows the valley of the shadow of death and its companion: Death Valley. No, not the one in California, but death itself. Jesus took the journey through both and emerged on Easter morning to aid us in our moments of fear and strife.
Jesus also gave us the gift of the Church so that we may always have each other too.
We don’t ever need to be alone in our struggles, and we are promised that Jesus will walk with us through everything, big or small.
Remember: Jam is always better when we share it with others.
What God Does When You are in a Jam: When You’re Empty
What happens when you have nothing in your tank when a jam comes your way? God gives amazing grace to help you move forward. Gideon from the book of Judges shows us what God can do in our lives.
What God Does When You Are In A Jam: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
We are in our second week of “What God Does When you are in a Jam” series. This week we look at a moment in Moses’ life when he was between a rock and hard place. God provides a way forward for Moses and for us.
I’ve been thinking a lot about water. Specifically, the water supply in southern Nevada. As most of you know, our water supply has been dwindling for the past 20 years. Lake Mead has served as our primary water source since 1935 when Hoover Dam was completed.
As most of you know the water serves another purpose: It generates electricity. As the water from Lake Mead passes through the dam the hydroelectric generators produce massive amounts of electricity. Each year, 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power is created at the dam. That electricity can power 1.3 million homes. Wow.
There is potential in that water! Water is essential for life AND if channeled properly it can provide needed power for the lives we live.
The same is true for our baptism.
The moment we were baptized, God laid a claim on our lives. We are born into a new family: The family of God. Nothing can undo that declaration by God.
Once we have received the water joined with the Word (Jesus) at Baptism, we are both a reservoir of God’s grace but we are also full of potential power.
At our baptism we are also given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit can change us and change the world!
Look at the disciples after the resurrection. They went from being afraid when Jesus died to fearless! That is the power of the Spirit at work.
Every Christian has potential Holy Spirit power in their lives.
How do we unleash that power? We surrender to it. Let God take the lead in your life. Remember: Thy will be done, not my will be done.
Thank you claiming us and making us your children. Help us to surrender our wills to yours so that the potential power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed in us… today… right now. Help us to stop, look and listen for your direction in all things. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
God bless you,
New Year’s Day 2023
It is the first day of 2023! How will we face the new year? By being present in the moment because that is where our faith is.
Article: Christmas 2022 Reflections
We come to the last few days of the year with an eye on New Year’s Day. Even as the world has moved on from Christmas, that is the season we are in and will be until Epiphany on January 6th.
I know it seems odd that it is still Christmas. After all, the stores and the radio told you it was the Christmas season on the day after Thanksgiving. But here we are.
Before the season officially ends, let’s look at where we have been in the past month.
First, we created an alternative holiday to-do list…
- Be present in the lives of others instead of just buying presents
- Wrap others in love instead of just wrapping presents.
- Be the light instead of just going out to look at lights. (I really wanted this to be “eat cookies instead of making them.”)
- Send peace to others by reaching out and contacting someone.
Of course, these are things we can do all year long and I personally will strive to do those things with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Although we didn’t look at all the stories of Jesus when he was an infant, let’s take a quick peek. These stories tell us something about Jesus’ identity and his future.
- The angels announced the birth to shepherds not Kings, Caesar’s, and nobles. Jesus will spend his time with “real people” like us.
- King Herod is threatened by the birth of Jesus. Herod’s power is threatened by the One who truly has power.
- When Jesus was dedicated at the Temple of Jerusalem as was the custom of that day a man by the name of Simeon knew who Jesus was and what he would be about. This is what he said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34
- The Wise Men come from afar reminding us that Jesus is for all people and not just some.
All the stories point to who Jesus is and what he would do for us. A good reminder for us before we put Christmas back into storage until next year.
God bless you and Merry Christmas,
Christmas Eve 2022
How do we find peace in a world of hate? We find peace in the people we love and in the Prince of Peace who came to us.
Holiday To-Do List: Be the Light
We continue our Advent journey by proposing a different to do list. Instead of going to go see Christmas lights maybe we should be the light to others.
This past Sunday at church, I told everyone that Rachel (my wife) made an old family cookie recipe that goes back several generations. That old Swedish cookie is called “Pepparkakor.”
The house smelled wonderful as the first batch of cookies baked in the oven. The aroma took me back to when I was a child when my mother would make these cookies for the family.
As the cookies came out of the oven, I jumped up from my seat to “help” Rachel in the kitchen. OK, I went into the kitchen to have a cookie. I was promptly told that these cookies were for the church bake sale.
The irony was that I went to church to buy back the cookies Rachel made in our home! (FYI: I didn’t buy them all!)
This week, Rachel suggested I share the family recipe of Pepparkakor with the church family! What an excellent idea I thought, now everyone can make me cookies! Just kidding!
Below is that recipe… enjoy!
1 c. butter
1⅓ c. sugar
2 T. light molasses
2½ c. flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each of the following:
Ground cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom
3 tsp. orange peel, fresh grated fine
Cream butter, egg, sugar and light molasses. Sift flour, baking soda, spices and orange peel. Combine all and blend. Roll out as thin as you can.
Use cookie cutter. Bake 375° on cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes.
God bless you,