Posts Tagged ‘God’

A member of my congregation shared this beautiful little story with me. Thought it might be a great way to start your week. I hope your days are filled with blessings better than biscuits! – RMG

Biscuits

A visiting Pastor was attending a men’s breakfast in farm country. He asked one of the impressive older farmers in attendance to say grace that morning. After all were seated, the older farmer began . . .

“Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The Pastor opened one eye and wondered to himself where this was
going. Then the farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.”

Now the Pastor was worried. However, without missing a beat, the farmer prayed on, “And Lord, you know I don’t care much for raw white flour.”

Just as the Pastor thought he should stand up and stop everything, the farmer continued, “But Lord, when you mix ’em all together and bake ’em up, I do love fresh biscuits.

So, Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we just don’t understand what you are sayin’ to us, we just need to relax and wait ’till You are done mixin’, and probably it will be somethin’ even better than biscuits.

Amen.”

May God Bless You Today and Forever!

Mark

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

 

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Happy Fourth Day of Easter!

“The meaning of Easter slips easily from our grasp. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child. No problem, there! Who can’t get behind a birthday celebration? But at Easter we have to accept that almost two thousand years ago a dead man was raised from the dead. That takes a lot of theological acrobatics to comprehend. As a young person, I spent many summers and other holidays at my grandparent’s funeral home. As a pastor, I’ve been burying the dead for two and a half decades; I’ve never seen anyone sit up in their casket and say, ‘Hi everybody! I’m back!’ But maybe Easter isn’t supposed to be grasped, at least not the way we get hold of a math problem or solve a puzzle. Maybe Easter is just the way God wants us to live, trusting that there is something much bigger and much better beyond the end of our temporal noses. After all, when you live as if Easter is real, even if you are just faking it – working for justice, making peace instead of war, sharing out your abundance, believing that there is a future brighter than the darkness of the present, even if the present includes death, that’s when the staggering truth of Easter starts to sink-in: in God we are abundantly and eternally free!”

– R. Mark Giuliano, The Old Stone Church

 

He is risen, indeed!

“The Christian religion asks us to put our trust not in ideas, and certainly not in ideologies, but in a God Who was vulnerable enough to become human and die, and Who desires to be present to us in our ordinary circumstances.”

― Kathleen Norris

Connect with CreationBy R. Mark Giuliano
The Old Stone Church, Cleveland
Adapted from a piece I wrote for Singing a Song of Faith (Toronto:UCPH, 2007) while living in Savannah, Georgia.

Of all the places to be pecking out thoughts on Lent and the natural world! As I reflect on the gift of creation this evening, my unfortunate location dawns on me: I’m stuck in my basement office at the Savannah College of Art and Design.  The musty room is windowless and poorly cooled with minimal puffs of conditioned air which feel much like my dog’s steamy breath panting in my ear.  My nicely pressed shirt looks like a damp rag and probably smells only slightly better.  No wonder they wear sear-sucker in the South.
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Matthew 2:1-12
The Magi had a star as their guiding light. What’s yours? 

Star of WonderIt’s a snowy Thursday morning and I’m still in my jammies. I’m working on a sermon about grace. This Sunday, the first one of the New Year, is Epiphany Sunday. It seems to me that if we can have just one guiding principle to follow this year, just as the Magi of yore had a star to follow as their guiding light, grace might just be a good one . . .

Grace is more than we deserve, greater than we can imagine and all that we need, says Max Lucado and others. It is God’s unconditional mercy expressed through the love, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it changes everything: how we look out our own lives and how we look at others.

By faith, when we embrace God’s grace we are enabled to live with courage in the face of fear, hope in times of discouragement, peace-making in times of conflict, freedom in a world of boundaries, unabashed love for others when so many hearts are hardened. Well, you get the idea; grace turns the world upside down!

A Double Double?
The wonderful thing about grace is that it has a double whammy impact on our lives. First, God’s grace deliver’s unconditional salvation through Christ. Secondly, God’s grace continues to sanctify us, make us holy, throughout our lifetime. If I were in Canada, we might call this a “double, double.”

A longtime ago, the big-daddy of the reformation, John Calvin, called it double grace:

“Christ was given to us by God’s generosity, to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ’s spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.” – John Calvin, Institutes III

Isn’t that just like grace? Two for the price of one – both salvation and sanctification, and the first one is free!

How has grace impacted your life?

As I continue doing my prayerful, careful work on grace in preparation for Sunday’s sermon, I’d love to hear from you about some of the ways grace has impacted in your life. Please feel free to comment! The fact that I am still in my jammies, sitting by the fire on this snowy Thursday morning, exploring God’s love for the world sure seems a lot like grace to me.

Grace and Peace!
R. Mark Giuliano
The Old Stone Church, Cleveland

Raising Hope and Awareness as we leave November.